MSH Scaling Up Community Access to Quality Medicines and Care in Tanzania, Uganda, and Liberia

 {Photo credit: Rui Pires}Accredited drug shop (ADS) in Uganda.Photo credit: Rui Pires

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly one-third of the developing world population lacks regular access to quality essential medicines. In rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, most people first turn to community drug shops for their medicines; yet these shops may not be legally licensed, have trained staff, or sell quality-assured medicines.

Committed to Expanding Access to Quality Essential Medicines 

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) along with its partners is committed to bringing quality essential medicines to 70 million people in rural communities by scaling up sustainable accredited drug seller programs in five African nations by 2015. MSH announced the Commitment to Action at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting.

Drawing on the power of public-private partnerships, this 15-million-dollar effort will result in more accredited private drug shops, more trained dispensers, and more medicines being made legally available to the millions of people who first turn to their community drug shop for medicine and health care advice. This program also positively impacts the lives of thousands of female workers—a majority of drug shop dispensers (up to 90 percent in some areas) are women. 

An Innovative Model 

Our innovative model relies on public-private collaboration at the national, local, and community levels. Governments develop and enforce regulations and quality standards and authorize sale of selected prescription-only medicines by accredited shops as an incentive to shop owners, while shop owners contribute to costs associated with accreditation, including training, increased inventory, and shop renovations. The shop owners have a vested interest in the success of their business. 

With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and support from other donors and in partnership with the governments of Tanzania, Uganda, and Liberia, we are working to expand access to safe, affordable essential medicines and build sustainable platforms for community-based health services through Sustainable Drug Seller Initiatives (SDSI). 

Scaling Up Access

The accredited drug dispensing outlet (ADDO) initiative in Tanzania has now been scaled up nationwide, covering all of Tanzania’s 21 mainland regions. More than 9,200 accredited shops are open—approximately 7,000 having been established since MSH’s commitment to the CGI. Over 13,000 ADDO dispensers have been trained and licensed (watch video from Tanzania). 

In Uganda, Tanzania’s ADDO model has been adapted to address the country’s needs. To date, MSH and partners have implemented the adapted program in five Ugandan districts with 569 accredited drug shops (ADS) opened and over 1,100 shop attendants trained (watch video from Uganda). 

In Liberia, the model has been adapted to create Accredited Medicine Stores with roll out underway in the country’s most populous county. Following a 2013 launch of the initiative, 120 shops and 358 dispensers have been accredited and licensed. 

In all three countries, approximately 13.5 million people have been directly affected by the commitment to scale-up access to quality medicines and care.