medicines management

To strengthen medicines management capacity, including supply chain management, at public sector health facilities in Uganda, the Ministry of Health introduced a multipronged supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS). The aim of this study was to assess the impact of SPARS on improving supply chain management. A series of four papers on SPARS described the SPARS concept, its impact on overall and domain practices and appropriate medicines use, and now in the fourth paper describing the effect on supply chain management. The multipronged SPARS approach was effective in building supply chain management capacity in lower-level health care facilities with statistically significant improvements in supply chain management overall and in almost all stock and storage management and ordering and reporting measures after one year of implementation. We recommend broad dissemination of the SPARS approach as an effective strategy to strengthen supply chain management in low-income countries.

Despite Uganda’s long-standing commitment to its medicines policy, the pharmaceutical supply chain has faced many well-documented constraints. In an effort to improve medicines management capacity at health facilities, Uganda developed and implemented a multi-pronged, evidence-based supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS). We wanted to estimate the costs and cost effectiveness of SPARS implementation in public (government and private not-for-profit) health facilities in Uganda. This information is critical for further SPARS scale up in Uganda and for SPARS implementation in countries with similar contexts that want to consider rolling out SPARS as a national strategy. SPARS has been implemented by Uganda’s Ministry of Health since 2010 with support from the US Agency for International Development. SPARS is implemented by district-level health care staff who are trained as MMS to provide on-the-job supervision and training of health workers. Evidence shows that SPARS is an effective intervention to improve performance in key medicines management domains. Based on our estimates from this study, implementing and operating SPARS costs about US$370,000 annually for 1460 facilities, which would extrapolate to approximately US$760,000 for about 3000 government sector facilities or about 0.3% of the total government- and donor-funded EMHS budget.

Using antiretrovirals (ARVs) as tracer products, we identified the following key practices that may affect supply chain management at the facility level: order verification, actions taken when stock is received, changes in prescription and dispensing due to ARV stock-out, actions to ensure patient adherence, and communication with other affiliated facilities and higher-level supply chain management. We propose a set of indicators to measure these practices.

In Kenyatta National Hospital, a leading hospital in Kenya, over 30% of expenditure is currently allocated to medicines, and this needs to be optimally managed. We used inventory control techniques, ABC (Always, Better, and Control), VEN (Vital, Essential, and Non-essential) and ABC-VEN matrix analyses to study drug expenditure patterns. Of an average of 811 medicine types procured annually, 80% were formulary drugs and 20% were non-formulary. Class A medicines constituted 13.2–14.2% of different medicines procured each year but accounted for an average of 80% of total annual drug expenditure. Class B medicines constituted 15.9–17% of all the drugs procured yearly but accounted for 15% of the annual expenditure, whilst Class C medicines constituted 70% of total medicines procured but only 5% of the total expenditure. Vital and essential medicines consumed the highest percentage of drug expenditure. ABC-VEN categorization showed that an average of 31% of medicine types consumed an average of 85% of total drug expenditure. Therapeutic category and morbidity patterns analysis showed a mismatch between drug expenditure and morbidity patterns in over 85% of the categories. We concluded that Class A medicines are few but consume the largest proportion of hospital drug expenditure. Vital and essential items account for the highest drug expenditure, and need to be carefully managed. ABC-VEN categorization identified medicines where major savings could potentially be made helped by therapeutic category and morbidity pattern analysis. There was a high percentage of non-formulary items, which needs to be addressed. Inventory control techniques should be applied routinely to optimize medicine use within available budgets, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

In late 2010, Uganda introduced a supervision, performance assessment, and recognition strategy (SPARS) to improve staff capacity in medicines management in government and private not-for-profit health facilities. This paper assesses the impact of SPARS in health facilities during their first year of supervision. SPARS was effective in building health facility capacity in medicines management, with a median overall improvement of almost 70% during the first year. The greatest improvements occurred in prescribing quality and at lower levels of care, although the highest level of performance was achieved in storage management. We recommend broad dissemination of the SPARS approach in all Ugandan health facilities as well as in other countries seeking a practical strategy to improve medicines management performance.

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