World Health Organization/International Network of Rational use of Drugs (WHO/INRUD) indicators are widely used to assess medicine use. However, there is limited evidence on their validity in Namibia's primary health care (PHC) to assess the quality of prescribing. An analytical cross-sectional survey design was used to examine and validate WHO/INRUD indicators in out-patient units of two PHC facilities and one hospital in Namibia from 1 February 2015 to 31 July 2015. Out of 1243 prescriptions; compliance to NSTG prescribing in ambulatory care was sub-optimal (target was >80%). Three of the four WHO/INRUD indicators did not meet Namibian or WHO targets: antibiotic prescribing, average number of medicines per prescription and generic prescribing. The majority of the indicators had low sensitivity and/or specificity. All WHO/INRUD indicators had poor accuracy in predicting rational prescribing.

To build capacity in medicines management, the Uganda Ministry of Health introduced a nationwide supervision, performance assessment and recognition strategy (SPARS) in 2012. Medicines management supervisors (MMS) assess performance using 25 indicators to identify problems, focus supervision, and monitor improvement in medicines stock and storage management, ordering and reporting, and prescribing and dispensing. Although the indicators are well-recognized and used internationally, little was known about the reliability of these indicators. An initial assessment of inter-rater reliability (IRR), which measures agreement among raters (i.e., MMS), showed poor IRR; subsequently, we implemented efforts to improve IRR. The aim of this study was to assess IRR for SPARS indicators at two subsequent time points to determine whether IRR increased following efforts to improve reproducibility. Initially only five (21%) indicators had acceptable reproducibility, defined as an IRR score ≥ 75%. At the initial assessment, prescribing quality indicators had the lowest and stock management indicators had the highest IRR. By the third IRR assessment, 12 (50%) indicators had acceptable reproducibility, and the overall IRR score improved from 57% to 72%. The IRR of simple indicators was consistently higher than that of complex indicators in the three assessment periods. We found no correlation between IRR scores and MMS experience or professional background.

Drawing on their experience in a range of developing countries, including 20 years of long-term experience in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Steve and Cathy Solter identify 10 important lessons about assisting ministries of health Pursuing true country ownership for effective programs requires a long-term approach involving persistence, patience, keen understanding of counterparts’ perspective, deference, building of trust, focus on priorities, technical competence, and sustained optimism.

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