Leveraging Human and Financial Resources in Afghanistan

Leveraging Human and Financial Resources in Afghanistan

Dr. Najia Dehzad, HN TPO’s Pharmacy Monitoring and Evaluation, Focal point (Photo credit: Lutfullah Ehsaas)

Coordination and partnership are often considered critical in global health programs to avoid duplication and waste of resources. Recently, Health Net TPO (HN TPO), an NGO with health programs in eastern and south eastern Afghanistan sought collaboration with MSH’s USAID funded Strengthening Pharmaceutical System (SPS) program to address gaps in knowledge and practice in pharmaceutical management in the provinces of Nangarhar, Laghman, Khost and Paktiya. These are the provinces that have ongoing interventions to promote rational use of medicines through the SPS program. While HN TPO organized and hosted the training program to cover topics from MSH’s well known "managing drug supply" (MDS) edition, the SPS program provided seven technical facilitators to support the sharing of knowledge and expertise.

I recently had a conversation with Dr. Najia Dehzad, HN TPO’s Pharmacy Monitoring and Evaluation, Focal point,  and was pleasantly surprised to learn that stakeholders in some provinces of Afghanistan are beginning to pay attention to the importance of medicines management and rational medicines use.

MSH/SPS: Why is HN TPO interested in pharmaceutical management interventions?

Dr. Dehzad: After staff salaries, pharmaceuticals are the second largest budget line item in the health project---so mismanagement and wastage of pharmaceuticals means wasting our resource. In addition, we experience shortage of medicines in our health facilities that discourage our community, who may not trust us anymore and decide to pursue other options for seeking healthcare---such as those in the poorly regulated private sector. Recently, we conducted a patient satisfaction survey and also conducted drug use study, drug use evaluation and implemented the inventory management assessment tool in collaboration with SPS. Initial results from the survey and the three studies indicated that our health facilities and hospitals have to focus more in pharmaceutical management. As a first step, we hired new qualified pharmacy staff and want to conduct training programs for new and existing pharmacy staff to help do their job better to the common goal of provision of quality health care.

MSH/SPS: The SPS program recently supported the four provincial hospitals to establish drug and therapeutics committee (DTC). What do you expect to achieve after the training on managing drug supply is given for them?

Dr. Dehzad: Physicians and pharmacists from the four provincial hospitals are the key personnel. MDS training will enable them to discuss pharmaceutical issues in DTC meetings and influence them to take the right decision on pharmaceutical issues. In addition, they can take active participation in quantification of medicine for their hospitals as they can select medicine effectively and efficiently. We hope that as a result of the training, hospitals can prevent wastage of resources with better management and prepare stock of health facilities in a more standard way to avoid destruction of medicine before dispensing to patients. Ultimately, better management of medicines and promoting rational use can satisfy our community and promote trust. Provision of good quality healthcare can prevent people from leaving our rural areas to seek healthcare in cities or in other countries.

Dr. Abdul Zahir Siddiqui is MSH’s Rational Medicines Use Advisor of the USAID funded SPS program in Afghanistan.