In recent years, global health stakeholders have begun to recognize the profound potential that drug shops have to advance public health goals, such as those related to malaria diagnosis and treatment, child health, and family planning. These outlets, for reasons of convenience and cost, are the first choice of care for millions of people - and until recently, they have largely been ignored. “Drug shops and pharmacies are important sources of health care, particularly in rural areas or urban slums with few public clinics.
Cross-posted with permission from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Blog, Impatient Optimists.
Primary health care has many different definitions, but can be defined simply as the first place where people seek care. Within this definition, private sector providers constitute an important source of primary health care in many parts of the world.
Private providers of primary health
Dr. Trevor Mundel and other senior staff of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation traveled to Tanzania this summer to see first-hand the successes of Accredited Drug Dispensing Outlets (ADDO). The ADDO program, which began in 2001, grew out of the need to transform the duka la dawa biridis—unlicensed retail drug shops—into profitable, government-accredited drug dispensing outlets that supply quality medicines and services to underserved populations in Tanzania.
In developing countries, a community medicines shop often serves as the first point of contact for health care. Empowering the drug shop owner and dispenser to provide safe, quality medicines, and referrals to a health facility for more complex care, is key to improving maternal and children’s health in rural areas.