Access to Medicines and Health Supplies

MSH promotes a systems-strengthening approach to increase access and appropriate use of essential maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) medicines and supplies that addresses pharmaceutical management taking into account the other five building blocks of health systems: governance, human resources, information systems, financing, and service delivery.


Ensuring availability of quality medicines and supplies requires improving policies, enforcing compliance with policies, and strengthening the regulatory system. MSH works with national regulatory authorities to streamline medicine registration processes, strengthen quality assurance, align national essential medicines lists with standard treatment guidelines, and establish transparent systems.

Human Resources

Scarcity of well-trained personnel to manage medicines and supplies and provide adequate pharmaceutical services is a perennial problem. Providers at lower levels of the health system including the community provide the bulk of MNCH health services, but are often the providers who receive the least attention in terms of capacity building. MSH develops state-of-the-art tools and job aids to assist providers in managing medicines and supplies and providing pharmaceutical services.  MSH develops MCH training programs and accompanying tools on pharmaceutical management for providers at all levels of the system.

Information Systems

Policymakers are often forced to make uninformed decisions about access to MNCH commodities because the necessary information is simply unavailable. MSH works at all levels to improve the evidence base for decision making related to pharmaceutical management.


Most MNCH commodities are inexpensive compared with those needed for other major public health conditions, such as HIV/AIDS. However, country budgets are often insufficient to cover needs completely. As a result, out-of-pocket expenses increase and equity diminishes for the most vulnerable populations who struggle to access medicines and services. MSH helps national programs develop mechanisms that reduce financial barriers, efficiently using existing resources, and generating additional financial resources.

Service Delivery

Managing the supply chain is not enough to ensure that patients receive and take the medicines that they need. Providing MNCH services requires provider training on the appropriate administration of medicines and support systems. MSH works to ensure that pharmaceutical care is included in international and national guidance on best practices.