Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

This blog post was originally published on the SIAPS website on December 27, 2016.

It's been called the pharmaceutical sector, a drug supply or management system or the medical products building block. By any name, the part of a health system that deals with ensuring access to essential medicines, vaccines and medical products and their correct use–we call it a pharmaceutical system at SIAPS–is critical. Yet despite much research in the field on improving its performance and considerable progress towards strengthening its components, there is no apparent consensus on what constitutes a pharmaceutical system in all of its complexity.

In addition, there's no clearly defined framework for measuring progress in pharmaceutical system strengthening (PSS). That means that countries and donors lack complete information for guiding their investments in PSS interventions, and the tools and agreed-on measures to evaluate them.

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Antibiotics on the shelves of a pharmacy in Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

In May 2015, the World Health Assembly discussed and endorsed a global action plan on antimicrobial resistance. The action plan sets five strategic objectives to promote better understanding of the threat of antimicrobial resistance, and to ensure the proper use and conservation of existing antimicrobials.

Originally known as SITE-TB, Sistema TMBR is the official platform for drug resistant TB monitoring and treatment in Brazil.Originally known as SITE-TB, Sistema TMBR is the official platform for drug resistant TB monitoring and treatment in Brazil.

In the 1990s many Brazilian patients infected with tuberculosis (TB) were not being cured, despite starting treatment. Some patients stopped taking their medication, which led to the reemergence of TB. In 1993, the World Health Organization declared that TB was a global emergency. Eventually, a multi-resistant strain of TB surfaced, making it even more difficult to fight the disease.

These occurrences --- referred to as “chronic cases” --- became apparent in some Brazilian states, but health units lacked standardized management systems to treat these cases of TB.

Centro de Referência Professor Hélio Fraga (CRPHF), which is Brazil's National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory, took control of TB surveillance in 1994. CRPHF defined a more effective treatment scheme and a national network to register and monitor the chronic cases in 1999. CRPHF builds human capacity through training and carries out operational and epidemiological studies. They also evaluate TB and other lung disease control activities and function as a Macro Regional Reference Lab.

The USAID-funded Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) program has been providing technical assistance to health facilities in the Northern Cape of South Africa, in partnership with the Provincial Department of Health, since 2005.

SPS addresses various areas, including: Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committees (PTCs), medicine supply management, patient adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART), infection prevention and control, HIV/AIDS pharmaceutical management, pharmacovigilance, quantification, and compliance with the legislation relating to the supply of medicine.

About the Northern Cape, South Africa

Northern Cape

Northern Cape, South Africa

Northern Cape is the largest province in South Africa --- 372,889 square kilometers (km²) --- with a population of 1.15 million. It represents 30.5 percent of the total surface area of South Africa.

Drug Therapeutic Committee training course in Kampala, Uganda.

As we celebrate World Health Day on April 7, 2011, the global health community is focusing on an increasingly dangerous health challenge---drug resistance. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)---defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial medicine to which it was previously sensitive---is a global public health threat that is rapidly wiping out the effectiveness of many first-line treatments. It undermines major public health achievements in treating infectious diseases such as HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and sexually transmitted infections. Not only is AMR a complex, cross-cutting problem affecting a wide variety of sectors, but it has crossed all national, geographical, and ethnic boundaries and is spreading globally.

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