retail drug outlets

Private-sector retail drug outlets are often the first point of contact for common health ailments, including tuberculosis (TB). The objective of this systematic review was to better understand the extent to which the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation on engaging retail drug outlets has been translated into programmatic policy, strategy, and intervention in low- and middle-income countries. The study found that of national strategic plans for TB control from 14 countries with varying TB burdens and a strong private sector, only 2 had explicit statements on the need to engage their national pharmacy professional association. The success rate of referrals from retail drug outlets who visited an approved health facility for TB screening ranged from 48% in Vietnam to 86% in Myanmar. Coverage of retail drug outlets ranged from less than 5 to 9% of the universe of retail drug outlets. For WHO’s End TB Strategy to be successful, scaling up retail drug outlets to increase national coverage, at least in countries with a thriving private sector, will be instrumental in accelerating the early detection and referral of the 3 million missing TB cases. The proposed public-private mix pharmacy model is applicable not only for TB control but also to tackle the antimicrobial resistance crisis in these countries.

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