medicines management

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

This post originally appeared on the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) program blog.

Does antimicrobial resistance mean the end of modern medicine as we know it? Not quite yet. However, in a report recently released on global surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that "a post-antibiotic era–in which common infections and minor injuries can kill–is a very real possibility for the 21st century."

Ghana. {Photo credit: Rui Pires}Photo credit: Rui Pires

Modern medicines, vaccines, and other health technologies have revolutionized health care. Yet these products haven’t improved lives everywhere, often because health systems haven’t made them accessible and affordable. In many developing countries, where health systems still rely heavily on out-of-pocket expenditure, patients face high costs at the point of service. Some people forgo necessary care; others endure financial hardship or even impoverishment. A majority of out-of-pocket spending goes towards medicines.

Uganda's Koboko health center IV store: Left, boxes of medicine and supplies piled in a store room before the SURE program's capacity building training. Right, Lebu Akim, stores assistant, in the newly organized medicine and supplies room. {Photo credits: Jimmy Ondoma/MSH.}Photo credits: Jimmy Ondoma/MSH.

Over the years, the Koboko health centre IV located in the West Nile region of Uganda has experienced challenges in the management of essential medicines and health supplies. Stock-outs of vital medicines were widespread, while huge quantities of slow-moving medicines were at risk of expiring. These problems were attributed to health workers’ poor skills in logistics management. In addition, there a was lack of reliable information to guide staff on when and what to order since stock cards were not regularly updated.

In July 2011, USAID's Securing Ugandans’ Right to Essential Medicines (SURE) program, led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), began capacity-building activities aimed at strengthening essential medicines and health supplies systems at health facilities in the region. SURE has used the supervision, performance assessment, and recognition approach in 45 districts in Uganda. This approach involves mentoring and coaching pharmacy and stores’ staff at private not-for-profit and public health facilities in medicines management.

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