Stories

{Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH} Photo credit: Rejoice Phiri/MSH

On April 2, 2020, Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika confirmed the country's first cases of COVID-19.

 {Photo credit: Raian Amzad/MSH}A client picks up a prescription at a private-sector drug shop in Dhaka, Bangladesh.Photo credit: Raian Amzad/MSH

In Bangladesh, private neighborhood drug sellers are the first point of care for 70% of the population. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the country went into lockdown, the people of Bangladesh depended even more on the safe delivery of products and services from local accredited drug sellers. Despite all odds, they kept their shops open safely.The Better Health Bangladesh project (BHB), funded by the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office, has been supporting Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Drug Administration since 2018 to accredit these private-sector drug sellers in 32 districts. MSH, which leads the project, began supporting private drug seller accreditation in Tanzania in 2003. The model has since been adopted in a number of countries in Africa and Asia. The medicine vendors receive assessments and training in pharmaceutical practices, such as accurate dispensing, counselling, and other pharmaceutical services. In the first phase of the project, through December 2020, BHB accredited 2,193 retail medicine shops against a target 2,500 (88%).

 {Photo credit: Hatoluf Melkamu}Temesgen Zewdu visits Keta Health Center to pick up his TB medicines and care for the plant dedicated to him.Photo credit: Hatoluf Melkamu

Betiglu Legesse is always trying to ensure that the patients he cares for stay on their tuberculosis (TB) treatment from beginning to end. It’s a challenge: In 2020 alone, more than 60 of his patients stopped their treatments, often due to many interplaying factors, such as forgetfulness, length of the treatment itself, fear of side effects, and a long distance to the health facility. Betiglu works as a TB focal person at the about 50 kilometers east of Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa.

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