MSH Receives $8.6 million Grant to make Essential Medicines more Accessible in Tanzania, Uganda and Liberia

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) has been awarded a three-year, $8.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue and expand its efforts to develop sustainable solutions enabling private drug sellers, many of them women, to help more people access essential medicines in Africa.

The Sustainable Drug Seller Initiatives (SDSI) program builds on previous MSH work in creating and implementing public-private partnerships, most notably the Strategies for Enhancing Access to Medicines (SEAM) program and the East African Drug Seller Initiative (EADSI). The approach incorporates government standards, regulations, accreditation, and enforcement along with training, supervision, business incentives, and consumer advocacy to create profitable drug shops that will increase access to quality pharmaceutical products and services in underserved areas on a sustainable basis.

Liberia offers a unique opportunity for building a sustainable drug seller initiative in a fragile state. The SDSI objective is not to retest the basic project model in Liberia, but to adapt the model to two counties and then roll it out to the rest of the country based on lessons learned.

“The new program’s goals are to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of these public-private drug seller initiatives in Tanzania and Uganda and to adapt and initiate roll out of the initiative in Liberia,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick, MD, MPH, President and CEO of MSH. “We intend to further prove that projects supporting drug sellers are feasible, effective, and sustainable in multiple settings.”

The project’s objectives include:

  • Enhancing accredited drug seller initiatives’ long-term sustainability, contributions to community-based access to medicines and care, and ability to adapt to changing health needs and health systems (Tanzania and Uganda).

  • Facilitating the geographic expansion of private-sector drug seller initiatives (Liberia).

  • Defining information related to consumer access to and use of medicines and facilitating its use in developing public health policy, regulatory standards, and treatment guidelines (Tanzania).

At the end of the SDSI program, drug sellers and outlets will be deeply embedded in their respective health systems, with links to community health initiatives in place. A central public-private sector coordinating body will be established, with clear lines of responsibility drawn for critical maintenance activities, such as continuing education and re-accreditation. In addition, an organized network of owners and dispensers will provide a more unified voice, and consumers will have more opportunities to be involved in health and health care delivery, especially as related to medicines and their access.

“MSH needs to assure that our role as facilitator and provider of technical assistance will be taken up by local players as the model and its implementation matures and becomes part of the country’s health care delivery system,” said Quick.

For additional details, read the SDSI press release.

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Management Sciences for Health (MSH), an international nonprofit health organization, uses proven approaches developed over nearly four decades to help leaders, health managers, and communities in developing nations build stronger health systems for greater health impact.