Organization and Management

A well-functioning pharmaceutical supply system relies on strong organizational and management support. This broad area encompasses activities ranging from system assessment to adequate infrastructure to human resource capacity. 

Planning and organizing strategies to strengthen pharmaceutical management require an understanding and characterization of the existing system. Pharmaceutical system assessments are used to diagnose problems, plan major projects and interventions, monitor progress, and compare the performance of one system with that of another. MSH carries out pharmaceutical system assessments and analyses of options in both the public and private sectors to inform decision-making and intervention design involving stakeholders at all levels through policy analysis, dialogue, and consensus development—such collaboration is central to success and sustainability. 

Sustainable access to medicines and other health technologies critically relies on the availability of skilled workers to provide and manage pharmaceutical services. Pharmaceutical system assessments can identify a country’s or program’s human resource capacity to manage pharmaceuticals at all levels, from facility to national. MSH then works with stakeholders to develop interventions to address capacity gaps, in the short and long term. Short-term activities might include task-shifting to fill gaps in health care worker shortages, including in pharmacies. For the long term, MSH helps countries engage in national-level comprehensive workforce planning to address challenges such as increasing demands, resource constraints, and health workforce policy reforms.

 Achieving cost-effectiveness requires identifying and controlling excess costs in the selection, procurement, distribution, and use of medicines. In addition to the obvious focus on lowering costs,  increasing efficiency is critical—five of the ten leading causes of waste in health systems involve medicines. MSH has several tools and approaches to maximize resources; for example, total cost analysis compiles information on variable costs associated with purchasing and inventory management to help managers consider options for change. VEN categorization (vital, essential, non-essential) is useful in setting purchasing priorities and directing staff activities.