Global Health Impact: Ensuring Access to Affordable, Quality Medicines

Global Health Impact: Ensuring Access to Affordable, Quality Medicines

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

MSH's May 2015 newsletter highlights the global health impact of pharmaceutical management: Ensuring access to affordable, quality medicines saves lives (subscribe).


by Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH

Health care is largely dependent upon essential medicines for preventing infection, reducing pain, and treating illness. The development of effective medicines, however, is only the beginning.

Quality care means getting the right medicine, in the right dose, at an affordable price, for all the people who need it.

Accessible, affordable, and properly used medicines save lives. Major childhood killers like diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and even HIV, are preventable or treatable with essential medicines. But for many children, where they live means the difference between life and death: some 30,000 children in developing countries die every year from diseases treatable with basic essential medicines.

In fact, most of the leading causes of death and disability in low- and middle-income countries could be prevented or treated with the appropriate use of affordable, effective medicines. Two billion people -- one third of the world’s population -- lack consistent access to essential medicines. Fake and substandard medicines exacerbate the problem. When these people fall ill and seek treatment, too often they end up with small quantities, high prices, poor quality, and the wrong drug. This leads to prolonged suffering, and even death.

As Director of Essential Medicines at the World Health Organization (WHO), I worked to change that. And at Management Sciences for Health (MSH), pharmaceutical management is a centerpiece of our work. The growing burden of noncommunicable diseases underscores the importance of essential medicines, and challenges the capacity of pharmaceutical systems.

MSH strengthens these systems to ensure that everyone has equitable access to quality, essential medicines, commodities, and other health and diagnostic technologies. This means knocking down geographic, financial and other barriers in order to promote the safe and effective use of medicines and technologies. From diagnostics and laboratory services, to pharmacy benefits management and pharmaceutical management innovations, MSH leads on ensuring global access to medicines and commodities.

These stories and articles showcase a few recent examples of our global leadership in pharmaceutical management.


Led by MSH with partners, the USAID-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program strengthens the management of essential medicines and health supplies so that more people can access the health care they need.

Rising to the Challenge: Developing the Pharmaceutical Leadership Development Program in South Africa

Pharmacists in South Africa are learning to use proven practices and tools to improve pharmaceutical service delivery through MSH's Pharmaceutical Leadership Development Program. Read more

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Improving Access to Maternal Health Commodities through a Systems Approach: Where Are We Now?

[Improving Access to Maternal Health Commodities through a Systems Approach: Where Are We Now?] {Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Improving Access to Maternal Health Commodities through a Systems Approach: Where Are We Now?Photo credit: Warren Zelman

The global community has made great progress on maternal health medicines over the last three years, blogs MSH's Beth Yeager, "identifying bottlenecks to access, raising awareness of the complexity of addressing these challenges, and increasing global commitment to ending preventable maternal deaths as part of the post-2015 development agenda." Read more

MSH: Bringing Health Care Closer to Home

[MSH: Bringing Health Care Closer to Home] {Photo: MSH staff}MSH: Bringing Health Care Closer to HomePhoto: MSH staff

Ten years ago, MSH teamed up with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a visionary minister of health, a bold chief pharmacist, and a progressive private sector to tackle the chaos of unlicensed drug sellers in rural Africa.

Starting in Tanzania, and now in Uganda and Liberia, this innovative public-private partnership created community health shops, Accredited Drug Shops, which provide affordable treatment to nearly 36 million people in Africa. Partner with us

[Procuring Life-Saving Commodities for 60 Countries] {Photo: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu}Procuring Life-Saving Commodities for 60 CountriesPhoto: Gwenn Dubourthoumieu

Ever wonder what it’s like supporting procurement of medicines and commodities for nearly one-third of the world’s countries?

MSH's Gordon Comstock describes MSH's role as a managing partner of The Partnership for Supply Chain Management (PFSCM) on The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria’s Pooled Procurement Mechanism (PPM). PPM procures and delivers about $46.6 million in life-saving health care products monthly, including HIV and malaria medicines, test kits, and related commodities. Read more

Piloting Portable Mini-Laboratory Kits in Afghanistan

[Piloting Portable Mini-Laboratory Kits in Afghanistan] {Photo: Jamshid Noori/SPS Afghanistan}Piloting Portable Mini-Laboratory Kits in AfghanistanPhoto: Jamshid Noori/SPS Afghanistan

Twenty-five staff from key pharmaceutical regulation stakeholders in Afghanistan completed a comprehensive training on the Global Pharma Health Fund’s GPHF-Minilab™, a portable mobile mini-laboratory kit designed for rapid medicine-quality verification and counterfeit medicine detection in resource-limited environments. Read more


Assuring Quality Medicines and Commodities: A Conversation with Chryste D. Best

[Assuring Quality Medicines and Commodities: A Conversation with Chryste D. Best]Assuring Quality Medicines and Commodities: A Conversation with Chryste D. Best

We spoke with MSH’s Chryste D. Best, product quality assurance manager, The Partnership for Supply Chain Management, about her selection as one of the top 300 women leaders in global health by the Global Health Programme of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Best provides innovative quality assurance oversight for the global procurement of medicines and commodities by MSH and partners. Meet Chryste


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