Increasing access to medicines

Medicines and the MDGs

Access to medicines is vital

According to WHO’s Director General, Dr Margaret Chan, although much progress has been made in moving forward on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there is a real risk that many low-income countries will not reach the health-related MDGs by 2015. One of the biggest gaps identified is the progress towards achieving access to essential medicines. Andrew Chetley reports on what needs to happen to change this situation. [Read more →]

Hands-off Medicines: a global campaign to improve dispensing practices

Pharmacy attendants at Madisi Community Hospital in Madisi, Malawi

People everywhere expect the medicines they receive in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and drug shops to be of good quality. But often medicines are dispensed by counting them out with bare hands. Through this practice, the medicines can become contaminated and may not work properly. This can have serious health implications.
Judy Wang, Alison Wong, Sarah Morrison and Tina Brock from Management Sciences for Health report on the issues that affect all health workers who handle medicines. [Read more →]

Stop Stock-outs: a campaign for access to medicines

Woman MP Nabila leads march

A ‘stock-out’ is when a pharmacy temporarily has no medicine on the shelf. It may affect one medicine or many medicines, or in the worst case, all medicines. The consequences for patients are grave; they may go without the medicines they need, or seek alternative and sometimes inappropriate medicine. A campaign in five African countries – Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – is underway to combat stock-outs.
Denis Kibira tells more about the campaign in Uganda. [Read more →]

Fighting counterfeits: without endangering public health

Activists petitioners at the constitutional court in Kenya

Since 2007, Health Action International (HAI) Africa and its network partners have been raising awareness of the dangerous rhetoric on how a new anti-counterfeit approach will be a solution to public health and safety. So what does ‘counterfeit’ mean? And why are some approaches to stop counterfeiting a threat to public health?
Christa Cepuch from HAI Africa explains. [

Access to medicines now and in the future: addressing the challenge of drug resistance

Chemical seller

Drug resistance is a growing problem. Efforts to combat ill-health caused, for example, by malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS, are being undermined by drug-resistant forms of the diseases. What can be done at community health care facility level to respond to the situation? What type of international response is appropriate?

Emma Back and Eva Ombaka share recent findings about drug resistance, and some possible ways forward. [Read more →]

Pharmacists discuss anticoagulation care with patient

How do you provide pharmacy services for over 100,000 HIV patients with very few resources? How do you treat newly emerging illnesses like diabetes and heart disease? In Kenya, the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM), the Purdue University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (PUSOPPS) and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital have taken fresh approaches to improving clinical pharmacy. By collaborating and working with national and international partners, they are providing unique pharmacy services to thousands of patients.
Imran Manji tells us more. [

Essential medicines: why do we need them?

Boy receiving medicine

Four out of five countries in the world have an essential medicines list. The medicines on the list should be available through the health system in suitable amounts and dosage forms to all who need them. The list is a cornerstone of national medicines policies and the entire pharmaceutical system, as it contains the medicines necessary to satisfy the priority health care needs of the population. What relevance does it have to front line health workers?

Alison Dunn, Editor of Health Exchange, asked Hans Hogerzeil, Director of Essential Medicines and Pharmaceutical Policies at the World Health Organization some questions about essential medicines. [Read more →]

Private pharmacists: the missing link in TB control

Administering DOTS medicines in a pharmacy

India has the highest incidence of tuberculosis (TB) in the world. There are 1.8 million new TB cases each year. The Government’s TB programme uses Directly Observed Treatment Short course (DOTS) to supervise patients’ treatment. However an estimated 40-50 per cent of TB treatment is accessed through private pharmacists. A challenge is to engage these pharmacists in TB control. Manjiri S Gharat of the Indian Pharmaceutical Association explains about an innovative programme to do just that. [Read more →]

Why we need better medicines for children – a paediatrician’s perspective

A broken pill

Medicine for children is often unavailable and unaffordable. When a correct medicine is available, it is frequently in the wrong formulation and dosage for a child. What can be done? Shalini Sri Ranganathan and Suzanne Hill put forward the case for improving access to children’s medicines. [Read more →]


One Response

  1. New approaches, partnerships and more resources are needed to improve existing initiatives and increase access to medicines in developing countries. That was the cautiously optimistic message delivered by experts from different backgrounds, including academia and the pharmaceutical industry, at a public meeting in Westminster organised by the London International Development Centre, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Africa, and the Royal African Society.

    Find out more about the prospects and challenges facing R&D and the merits of sharing knowledge by visiting .

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