health commodities

Many low-income and middle-income countries lack the capacity to effectively and efficiently regulate medical products in their countries. To support countries in strengthening their capacity, WHO has developed the Global Benchmarking Tool (GBT) as the global standard for objectively assessing regulatory capacity for medicines and vaccines. The GBT is a game changer because it is the first globally accepted tool for assessing and strengthening national regulatory authorities. The inclusion of an institutional development plan in the GBT methodology provides context-specific actionable steps countries can take to advance their system’s functionality and maturity. The GBT facilitates coordination and improves the effectiveness of regulatory strengthening efforts. The tool also facilitates regulatory reliance and harmonisation, which helps to improve timely access to quality-assured medicines, and creates incentives for trade, particularly in countries and regions with a strong pharmaceutical manufacturing base. 

In 2000, the Millennium Development Goals set targets for social achievements by 2015 including goals related to maternal and child health, with mixed success. Several initiatives supported these goals including assuring availability of appropriate medicines and commodities to meet health service targets. We compiled indicator data on 15 commodities related to reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) and analyzed them across 75 Countdown to 2015 countries from eight regions to identify problems with specific commodities and determinants of access. The determinants related to policy, regulatory environment, financing, pharmaceutical procurement and supply chain, and information systems. We also developed a dashboard for policy and systems indicators for select countries. The commodities we identified as having the fewest barriers to access had been in use longer. No country reported recent stock-outs of all the 15 commodities at the central level—countries always had some of the 15 commodities available. This analysis highlights country deficiencies in policies and systems, such as incoherent policy guidelines, problems in product registration, lack of logistics data, and central-level stock-outs that may affect access to essential RMNCH commodities.

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