Clinton Global Initiative: MSH Pledges $15 Million to Scale Up Access to Quality Medicines for 70 Million People; Women's Lives to be Improved

(New York) Management Sciences for Health (MSH) today announced its $15-million Commitment to Action at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, pledging to scale up sustainable accredited drug seller programs in five African nations by 2015 and bring quality essential medicines to 70 million people in rural communities. The program will also positively impact the lives of thousands of female workers—many of the drug shop dispensers (up to 90 percent in some areas) are women—through creation of new business and employment opportunities.  For more information on the MSH commitment visit www.msh.org/cgi2011

“With this program, MSH and its partners are not only working to expand access to safe, affordable essential medicines, but building sustainable platforms for community-based health services and advice“ said Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, President and CEO of MSH. “The program enables community medicine shops to provide high impact prevention and treatment close to home for family planning and major childhood killers including malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia. It also offers entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for people living in these communities. ”

Most people in rural areas of Africa often first turn to their community drug shops for their medicines and health care needs. These shops may not be legally licensed, have staffs that are often untrained, and sell medicines that may be of uncertain quality or that they are not legally allowed to dispense. Regulatory inspection is infrequent and shops receive no supportive supervision.

Drawing on the power of private-public partnerships, the MSH program will accredit more private drug shops, train more dispensers, and sell more legal medicines to the millions of people who first turn to their community drug shop for medicine and health care advice.   

The MSH innovative and expansive model, currently operating in Tanzania and Uganda and soon in Liberia and two other countries, relies on public-private collaboration at the national, district, and community levels. Governments develop and enforce quality standards, while providing economic incentive, such as authorization to legally sell a number of prescription-only medicines. When these sales are coupled with the sale of non-prescription medicines, medical supplies, and personal care products, the likelihood of profitability and long-term sustainability of the accredited shops increases. Private sector partners contribute to the accreditation costs (including training), product supply, shop renovations, and financing. The shop owners have a vested interest in the success of their business as do their employees. The communities served by these shops benefit from increased access to quality medicines and health advice. The MSH program aims to have opened 20,000 accredited shops and trained 20,000 owners by 2015.

“Through our work in these countries, MSH expects not only to expand access to medicines, but to show that such initiatives are feasible, effective, and scalable without ongoing donor support,” said Dr. Quick. “Community drug shops can also help to enhance lives, reduce stigma, and keep young girls and women in school, at work, and providing for their family by offering female-specific products.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, menstruation can cause undue concerns because of the unavailability in some communities of products required by women and girls to cope with menstrual flow. “With this program, we hope to allow woman and girls to have access to the right products,” said Dr. Quick.

A 2010 assessment in Tanzania showed that the overall quality of dispensing services in the region first implemented in 2004 has continued to improve with limited additional training. Declines in referral for simple malaria indicated dispensers’ increased ability and confidence to manage simple malaria. In addition, a vast majority of the shops in this region have remained open and profitable.

MSH partners on the 2011 Commitment to Action include:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, and US Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Governments of Tanzania, Uganda, and Liberia.

To obtain photographs of accredited drug shops, please contact Barbara Ayotte at bayotte@msh.org or 617-852.6011.

About Management Sciences for Health:

Management Sciences for Health (MSH), an international nonprofit global health organization, uses proven approaches developed over forty years to help leaders, health managers, and communities in developing nations build stronger health systems for greater health impact. www.msh.org

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI):

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made more than 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. The 2011 Annual Meeting will take place Sept. 20-22 in New York City.

This year, CGI also convened CGI America, a meeting focused on developing ideas for driving economic growth in the United States. The CGI community also includes CGI U, which hosts an annual meeting for undergraduate and graduate students, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young CGI members for leadership development and collective commitment-making. For more information, visit www.clintonglobalinitiative.org.

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