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The essential medicines concept has become an established approach in international public health – a vital component for combating HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, respiratory infections, other communicable diseases and the vast majority of non-communicable diseases. But the survival and global dissemination of the essential medicines concept were by no means assured at the outset.  

CORE Plus training course conducted for Syrian NGOs in Turkey, 2017. Photo Credit: Steven Collins/MSH PURPOSE

Although postconflict Afghanistan has some of the worst health indicators in the world, the government is working hard to rebuild the health infrastructure, extend services to underserved areas and improve the quality of health services.

A structured questionnaire was used to collect data from 500 respondents who were diagnosed clinically and/or parasitologically for malaria at Agogo Presbyterian Hospital and Suntreso Polyclinic, both in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Collected information included previous use of anti-malarial drugs prior to attending the health facilities, types of drugs used, how the drugs were used, and the sources of the drugs. In addition, the anti-malarial therapy given and outcomes at the two health facilities were assessed. Of the 500 patients interviewed, 17% had severe malaria, 8% had moderate to severe malaria and 75% had uncomplicated malaria. Forty-three percent of the respondents had taken anti-malarial drugs within two weeks prior to hospital attendance. The most commonly used anti-malarials were chloroquine (76%), sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (9%), herbal preparations (9%) and amodiaquine (6%). The sources of these medicines were licensed chemical sellers (50%), pharmacies (21%), neighbouring clinics (9%) or "other" sources (20%) including left-over medicines at home. One hundred and sixty three (77%) of the 213 patients who had used anti-malarial drugs prior to attending the health facilities, used the drugs inappropriately. At the health facilities, the anti-malarials were prescribed and used according to the national standard treatment guidelines with good outcomes. Conclusion: Prevalence of inappropriate use of anti-malarials in the community in Ghana is high. There is need for enhanced public health education on home-based management of malaria and training for workers in medicine supply outlets to ensure effective use of anti-malaria drugs in the country.

The Need for Change Management

In Tanzania, many people seek malaria treatment from retail drug sellers. The National Malaria Control Program identified the accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) program as a private sector mechanism to supplement the distribution of subsidized artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs) from public facilities and increase access to the first-line antimalarial in rural and underserved areas. The ADDO program strengthens private sector pharmaceutical services by improving regulatory and supervisory support, dispenser training, and record keeping practices. The government's pilot program made subsidized ACTs available through ADDOs in 10 districts in the Morogoro and Ruvuma regions, covering about 2.9 million people. As part of the evaluation, 448 ADDO dispensers brought their records to central locations for analysis, representing nearly 70% of ADDOs operating in the two regions. ADDO drug register data were available from July 2007-June 2008 for Morogoro and from July 2007-September 2008 for Ruvuma. During the pilot, over 300,000 people received treatment for malaria at the 448 ADDOs. The percentage of ADDOs that dispensed at least one course of ACT rose from 26.2% during July-September 2007 to 72.6% during April-June 2008. The number of malaria patients treated with ACTs gradually increased, while the use of non-ACT antimalarials declined; ACTs went from 3% of all antimalarials sold in July 2007 to 26% in June 2008.

Namibia had the fourth highest incidence of TB in the world and is among the countries most affected by HIV & AIDS. The country also faces a huge challenge in its pursuit of malaria eradication. In the face of these challenges, Namibia has an acute shortage of health care personnel, including in pharmaceutical care.

The number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) has increased considerably in recent years and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. A major challenge is to maintain uninterrupted supplies of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and prevent stock-outs.

The objective of this study was to implement a rapid assessment of the performance of four malaria control strategies (indoor spraying, insecticide-treated bed nets, timely diagnosis, and artemisinin-based combination therapy) using adequacy criteria. The assessment was carried out in five countries of the Amazon subregion (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, and Peru). Although ACT is the strategy with the better implementation in all countries, major gaps exist in implementation of the other three malaria control strategies in terms of technical criteria, coverage and quality desired. The countries must implement action plans to close the gaps in the various criteria and thereby improve the performance of the interventions. The assessment tools developed, based on adequacy criteria, are considered useful for a rapid assessment by malaria control authorities in the different countries.

Background Globally, the monitoring of prompt and effective treatment for malaria with artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) is conducted largely through household surveys. This measure; however, provides no information on case management processes at the health facility level.

Described here is the first population genetic study of Plasmodium malariae, the causative agent of quartan malaria. Although not as deadly as Plasmodium falciparum, P. malariae is more common than previously thought, and is frequently in sympatry and co-infection with P. falciparum, making its study increasingly important. This study compares the population parameters of the two species in two districts of Malawi with different malaria transmission patterns—one seasonal, one perennial—to explore the effects of transmission on population structures. The extent of similarity between P. falciparum and P. malariae population structure described by the high level of multiple infection, the lack of significant population differentiation or haplotype clustering, and lack of linkage disequilibrium is surprising given the differences in the biological features of these species that suggest a reduced potential for out-crossing and transmission in P. malariae. The absence of a rise in P. malariae MOI with increased transmission or a reduction in MOI with age could be explained by differences in the duration of infection or degree of immunity compared to P. falciparum.

This workbook is used throughout the Virtual Municipal Pandemic Planning (VMPP) Program. The program is divided into a series of modules, and each module has a chapter in the workbook. This program will introduce participants to a set of tools to assist mayors and their municipal leadership teams in pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery efforts.

Changing Malaria Treatment Policy to Artemisinin-Based Combinations: An Implementation Guide This document provides guidance to countries on implementing national policy changes to ACT for first-line malaria treatment consistent with the World Health Organization's (WHO) policy recommendations.

RPM Plus works in several countries globally to help enhance pharmaceutical management systems and improve access to high-quality antimalarial medicines and commodities. Read more about RPM Plus' work in the malaria brochure.

A cross-sectional study conducted in two states of India during 2006-08 found a disconnect between routine antenatal practices in India and known strategies to prevent and treat malaria in pregnancy. Prevention strategies, in particular the use of insecticide-treated bednets, are underutilized.

Background To improve access to treatment in the private retail sector a new class of outlets known as accredited drug dispensing outlets (ADDO) was created in Tanzania. Tanzania changed its first-line treatment for malaria from sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) to artemether-lumefantrine (ALu) in 2007. Subsidized ALu was made available in both health facilities and ADDOs.

This review aimed to document evidence on access to effective malaria treatment in Kenya, identify factors that influence access, and make recommendations on how to improve prompt access to effective malaria treatment. Since treatment-seeking patterns for malaria are similar in many settings in sub Saharan Africa, the findings presented in this review have important lessons for other malaria endemic countries.

Given the large population at risk, a cross sectional study was conducted in order to better define the burden of malaria in pregnancy in Jharkhand, a malaria-endemic state in central-east India.

Despite lower levels of artemether-lumefantrine (AL) stock-outs compared to the reports in 2008, the stock-outs at Kenyan facilities during 2010-2011 are still substantial and of particular worry for the most detrimental: simultaneous absence of any AL pack. Only minor decrease was observed in the stock-outs of individual AL packs. Recently launched interventions to eliminate AL stock-outs in Kenya are fully justified.

Of 48 surveyed hospitals and health centers in Ethiopia, 9 (19%), 9 (19%), and 10 (21%) did not have malaria, TB, or HIV drugs, respectively. Similarly, of 27 health posts, 9 (33%) and 6 (22%) did not have rapid diagnostic tests and antimalarial drugs, respectively. The findings indicated an inadequate availability of essential drugs and commodities in the surveyed facilities as well as weaknesses in human resources and training.

Background: Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT), the treatment of choice for uncomplicated falciparum malaria, is unaffordable and generally inaccessible in the private sector, the first port of call for most malaria treatment across rural Africa.

BackgroundThroughout Africa, the private sector plays an important role in malaria treatment complementing formal health services. However this sector is faced by a number of challenges including poor dispensing practices by unqualified staff.

In developing countries, particularly in Africa, the provision of health services leans heavily towards today’s epidemics, including HIV and AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. This calls for different approaches to the implementation of interventions from a public health perspective.

Objective: The objective of this review is to produce evidence on the prevalence and trends in the availability of substandard and counterfeit antimicrobials in the global market and its consequences on key public health interventions in developing countries.

Mobile health (mHealth) is the provision of health services and information via mobile and wireless technologies. Within Africa the mobile phone has become ubiquitous, making mHealth applications an important tool with which to impact the health of Africans. When applied correctly, mHealth can make real contributions to improved health outcomes.