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An extensive body of work on access to and use of medicines has resulted in an assortment of tools measuring various elements of pharmaceutical systems. Until now however, there has been little attempt to conceptualize a pharmaceutical system as an entity and define its strengthening in a way that allows for measuring systems strengthening. The narrow focus of available tools limits their value in ascertaining which interventions result in stronger, more resilient systems. We sought to address this shortcoming by revisiting the current definitions, frameworks and assessment tools related to pharmaceutical systems. We conducted a comprehensive literature review and consulted with select pharmaceutical experts. On the basis of our review, we propose that a pharmaceutical system consists of all structures, people, resources, processes, and their interactions within the broader health system that aim to ensure equitable and timely access to safe, effective, quality pharmaceutical products and related services that promote their appropriate and cost-effective use to improve health outcomes. We further propose that pharmaceutical systems strengthening is the process of identifying and implementing strategies and actions that achieve coordinated and sustainable improvements in the critical components of a pharmaceutical system to make it more responsive and resilient and to enhance its performance for achieving better health outcomes. Finally, we established that, in addition to system performance and resilience, seven components of the pharmaceutical system are critical for measuring pharmaceutical systems strengthening: pharmaceutical products and related services; policy, laws and governance; regulatory systems; innovation, research and development, manufacturing, and trade; financing; human resources; and information.

A cross-sectional qualitative study was conducted to explore early experiences surrounding "Option B+" for patients and health care workers in Malawi. As "Option B+" continues to be rolled out, novel interventions to support and retain women in care must be implemented. These include providing space, time, and support to accept a diagnosis before starting ART, engaging partners and families, and addressing the need for peer support and confidentiality.

Despite Namibia's robust medicine use systems and policies, antibiotic use indicators remain suboptimal. Recent medicine use surveys rank cotrimoxazole, amoxicillin and azithromycin (CAA) among the most used medicines. However, there is rising resistance to CAA (55.9%-96.7%). A quantitative text analysis found that policy and guidelines for antibiotic use in Namibia are not comprehensive and are skewed towards PHCs. Existing policies promote the wide use of CAA antibiotics, which may inadvertently result in their inappropriate use, enhancing resistance rates. This calls for the development of more comprehensive antibiotic guidelines and essential medicine lists in tandem with local antimicrobial resistance patterns. 

HIV among people who inject drugs (PWID) is a serious public health problem in Tajikistan and other Central Asian republics, yet relatively few studies have been conducted among PWID in Tajikistan and almost nothing is known about females who inject drugs. This presentation will examine gender differences in HIV status, injection risk behaviors and sex risk behaviors among PWID in Tajikistan.

The Global Burden of Disease 2015 article on maternal mortality by Nicholas Kassebaum and colleagues (Oct. 8, p. 1775) contains a serious error reflecting a basic misunderstanding of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target for maternal mortality. The report states that “only ten countries achieved MDG 5, but 122 of 195 countries have already met SDG 3.1”. This is a dangerous and inaccurate interpretation of the global goal. The SDG target is a global target, not a country target. To achieve the global target for maternal mortality reduction requires every country to reduce its national maternal mortality ratio from baseline by two-thirds in that timeframe. It is probably safe to assume that no country has succeeded in reducing its maternal mortality ratio by two-thirds since the SDGs were launched in September 2015.

The objective of this study was to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of the nationally approved ambulatory service delivery model for MDR-TB treatment in two regions of Ethiopia. We used routinely reported data to describe the process and outcomes of implementing an ambulatory model for MDR-TB services in a resource-limited setting. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of MDR-TB treatment-initiating centers increased from 1 to 23. The number of sputum samples tested for MDR-TB increased 20-fold, from 662 to 14,361 per year. The backlog of patients on waiting lists was cleared. The cumulative number of MDR-TB patients put on treatment increased from 56 to 790, and the treatment success rate was 75%. Rapid expansion of the ambulatory model of MDR-TB care was feasible and achieved a high treatment success rate in two regions of Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Paediatric HIV Cohort was established to identify clinical and laboratory predictors of virological treatment failure to ultimately develop a clinical–immunological prediction rule with area under the curve of >0.80 for detecting first-line antiretroviral therapy failure (ARTF). It will also assess the performance of the current WHO guidelines for detection of first-line ARTF in children. Using a prospective cohort design, HIV-infected children and adolescents below the age of 18 years are followed every 6 months with a set of clinical and laboratory parameters at 6 hospitals in southern Ethiopia. From October 2015 through April 2016, 628 children have been enrolled. The cohort will be completed in September 2017. The successful completion of this study will allow for better targeting of viral-load testing to those at highest risk in resource-poor settings and provide clinicians and policymakers with a practical prediction rule.

We assessed community awareness about cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms and perceptions about prevention and cure of cervical cancer in order to contribute data to inform interventions to improve cervical cancer survival. The study was conducted in Gulu, a post-conflict district in Uganda in 2012. The sample included 448 adults. Recognition of cervical cancer risk factors and symptoms was high among study participants. Targeted interventions including increasing availability of HPV vaccination, population-based cervical screening and diagnostic services can translate high awareness into actual benefits.

Our objective was to demonstrate the feasibility of integrated care for TB, HIV and diabetes mellitus (DM) in a pilot project in Ethiopia. Of 3439 study participants, 888 were patients with DM, 439 patients with TB and 2112 from HIV clinics. Tri-directional screening was feasible for detecting and managing previously undiagnosed TB and DM.

An intervention brought together community health workers, health facility staff, and accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) dispensers to improve maternal and newborn health through a mechanism of collaboration and referral. Relationships among the three levels of care improved after the linkage intervention, especially for ADDO dispensers and health facility staff who previously had no formal communication pathway. The study participants' perceptions of success included improved knowledge of case management and relationships among the three levels of care, more timely access to care, increased numbers of patients/customers, more meetings between community health workers and health facility staff, and a decrease in child and maternal mortality.

In 1997, Milstien, Batson, and Meaney published ‘‘A Systematic Method for Evaluating the Potential Viability of Local Vaccine Producers.” The paper identified characteristics of successful vaccine manufacturers and developed a viability framework to evaluate their performance. This paper revisits the original study after two decades to determine the ability of the framework to predict manufacturer success. Considering the marked changes in the market and technology landscape since 1997, the authors find the viability framework to be predictive and a useful lens through which to evaluate manufacturer success or failure.

The past decade has witnessed increasing global attention and political support for maternal, newborn and child health. Despite this increased attention, actual progress has been slow and sporadic: coverage of key maternal and newborn health interventions remains low and there are wide disparities in access to care, within and across countries.

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.

Strong leadership and management skills are crucial to finding solutions to the human resource crisis in health. Health professionals and human resource (HR) managers worldwide who are in charge of addressing HR challenges in health systems often lack formal education in leadership and management. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) developed the Virtual Leadership Development Program (VLDP) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The VLDP is a Web-based leadership development programme that combines face-to-face and distance-learning methodologies to strengthen the capacity of teams to identify and address health challenges and produce results. The USAID-funded Leadership, Management and Sustainability (LMS) Program adapted the VLDP for HR managers to help them identify and address HR challenges that ministries of health, other public-sector organizations and nongovernmental organizations are facing. Three examples illustrate the results of the VLDP for teams of HR managers: (1) the Uganda Protestant and Catholic Medical Bureaus; (2) the Christian Health Association of Malawi; and (3) the Developing Human Resources for Health Project in Uganda.

The aim of the present study was to indentify the epidemiological factors of drug-resistant (DR TB) patients in the northern part of Bangladesh. A cross-sectional study was conducted of registered DR TB patients at two chest diseases hospitals. The present study demonstrated that males (68.9%) were more affected by DR TB than females (31.8%).This study suggested that sex, age, type of treatment, residence, education and smoking status were important factors for getting MDR TB. It is expected that this study can help government to take activities for controlling and prevent MDR TB disease.

We assessed a participatory community and health system intervention to reduce the prevalence of disrespect and abuse during childbirth in Tanzania. After implementation of the combined intervention, the likelihood of women’s reports of disrespectful treatment during childbirth was substantially reduced. These results were observed nearly 1 year after the end of the project’s facilitation of implementation, indicating the potential for sustainability. The results indicate that a participatory community and health system intervention designed to tackle disrespect and abuse by changing the norms and standards of care is a potential strategy to improve the treatment of women during childbirth at health facilities.

TB data for 2015 were combined with cost data using a simple type of cost-benefit analysis in a decision tree model to show the economic burden under different scenarios. In Indonesia, there were an estimated 1, 017,378 new active TB cases in 2015, including multidrug-resistant TB. It is estimated that 417,976 of these cases would be treated and cured, 160,830 would be unsuccessfully treated and would die, 131,571 would be untreated and would achieve cure spontaneously, and 307,000 would be untreated and would die. The total economic burden related to treated and untreated cases would be approximately US$6.9 billion. Loss of productivity due to premature death would be by far the largest element, comprising US$6.0 billion (discounted), which represents 86.6% of the total cost. Loss of productivity due to illness would be US$700 million (10.1%), provider medical costs US$156 million (2.2%), and direct non-medical costs incurred by patients and their households US$74 million (1.1%). The economic burden of TB in Indonesia is extremely high. Detecting and treating more cases would result not only in major reductions in suffering but also in economic savings to society.

The community-based health insurance (CBHI) scheme launched by the Government of Rwanda (GoR) reached 91% of the population in 2010, starting from 7% in 2003. Initially, all CBHI members paid the same fees, regardless of their personal income, and the poorest citizens faced challenges in paying premiums (almost US$1.50 per person). A mechanism was thus urgently needed to guarantee access to health care for the most vulnerable and promote equity among members. The GoR decided to introduce a stratification system based on the socioeconomic status of the population. Together with partners, including the Integrated Health Systems Strengthening Project (IHSSP), the GoR developed a national database that stratifies Rwandan citizens by income. To date, more than 10 million residents’ records, representing 96% of Rwanda’s population, have been entered into the database. This database helped identify the most vulnerable based on socioeconomic status (about 25% of the population). Identification of the poorest among the population has allowed an increase in CBHI funds due to identification of individuals who have a greater capacity to pay. The database thus improved the financial viability and management capacity of the CBHI scheme.

To determine if children presenting without complaints related to the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) are at greater risk for suboptimal screening for IMCI conditions, we randomly sampled and observed 3072 sick child visits in 33 provinces of Afghanistan. The study indicated that children with non-IMCI complaints are at greater risk of suboptimal screening compared to children with IMCI-related complaints. We concluded that facility and provider capacity needs to be improved, particularly during training, supervision and guideline dissemination, to ensure that all children receive routine screening for common IMCI conditions.

We implemented a group randomized controlled trial in 24 reproductive and child health clinics in eight districts in Mbeya region. Three months pre-intervention, we identified 1924 and 1226 patients established on antiretroviral therapy for six months or more in intervention and control clinics, respectively, of whom 83.4% and 86.9% had one or more post-intervention visits. The unadjusted rate of missed visits declined from 36.5% to 34.4% in intervention clinics and increased from 38.9% to 45.5% in control clinics following the intervention. Interrupted time series analyses demonstrated a net decrease of 13.7% (95% CI [-15.4,-12.1]) for missed visits at six months post-intervention. Similar differential changes were observed for visits missed by 3, 7, 15, or 60 days. Appointment-tracking and community outreach significantly improved appointment-keeping for women on antiretroviral therapy. The facility staff controlled their workload better, identified missing patients rapidly, and worked with existing community organizations. There is now enough evidence to scale up this approach to all antiretroviral therapy and Option B+ reproductive and child health clinics in Tanzania as well as to evaluate the intervention in medical clinics that treat other chronic health conditions.

Uganda’s Ministry of Health in 2012 implemented a comprehensive strategy (SPARS) to build medicines management capacity in public sector health facilities. The approach includes supportive supervision. This structured observational study assesses supportive supervision competency among medicines management supervisors (MMS). The study used structured observations of two groups of five purposely selected MMS—one group supervising facilities with greater medicines management improvement during one year of SPARS and one group with less improvement, based on quantitative metrics. Our results suggest that MMS’ supportive supervision competency is positively related to the SPARS effectiveness scores of the facilities they supervise. We recommend strategies to strengthen supportive supervision behaviors and skills.

MSH has 10 TENs composed of approximately 600 members from 45 countries. Over two-thirds of members are based in field-based projects supported by MSH. Each TEN is focused on a technical area, such as reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis; a health systems function, such as leadership and governance, health care finance, and human resources for health; or cross-cutting topics, such as gender, youth, monitoring and evaluation, and country operations. A review of the literature, development of an operational framework, assessment, and analysis with case examples provide important insights into how the TENs can be used to collaborate with peers around the world and add value to the agency’s mission and vision. MSH now can identify which TENs are ready to be pushed to the next level of functionality to meet MSH’s evolving performance and learning priorities.

Several recent studies have attempted to measure the prevalence of disrespect and abuse (D&A) of women during childbirth in health facilities. Variations in reported prevalence may be associated with differences in study instruments and data collection methods. This systematic review and comparative analysis of methods aims to aggregate and present lessons learned from published studies that quantified the prevalence of D&A during childbirth.

Emergencies can often directly impact health systems of an affected region or country, especially in resource-constrained areas. Health system recovery following an emergency is a complex and dynamic process. Health system recovery efforts have often been structured around the World Health Organization’s health systems building blocks as demonstrated by the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment. Although this structure is valuable and well known, it can overlook the intricacies of public health systems. We retrospectively examine public health systems recovery, a subset of the larger health system, following the 2010 Haiti earthquake and cholera outbreak, through the lens of the 10 essential public health services. This framework illustrates the comprehensive nature of and helps categorize the activities necessary for a well-functioning public health system and can complement other assessments. Outlining the features of a public health system for recovery in structured manner can also help lay the foundation for sustainable long-term development leading to a more robust and resilient health system.

The objective of this study is to explore selected pharmacies' readiness to serve women seeking emergency contraception (EC). This study used a mystery client (MC) methodology to visit 73 pharmacies in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Findings indicate that more than two-thirds of EC providers were knowledgeable about EC dosage, timeframe, and side effects, and 90% were deemed helpful towards novice EC users. Rare but glaring misconceptions about EC timeframe (20% of providers) and long-term side effects (4% of providers), as well as frequent stock-out (22%) and cost issues highlight priorities for programmatic improvements. As new service delivery strategies are explored to complement the uneven network of health structures in DRC, this study suggests that, given proper training and integration in FP programming, private-sector pharmacies have the potential to meet specific contraceptive needs for women living in Kinshasa.

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