(2002; 6 pages) [French] [Spanish]
2. Clinical guidelines
Clinical guidelines (standard treatment guidelines, prescribing policies) consist of systematically developed statements to help prescribers make decisions about appropriate treatments for specific clinical conditions. Evidence-based clinical guidelines are critical to promoting rational use of medicines, Firstly, they provide a benchmark of satisfactory diagnosis and treatment against which comparison of actual treatments can be made, Secondly, they are a proven way to promote more rational use of medicines provided they are: (1) developed in a participatory way involving end-users; (2) easy to read; (3) introduced with an official launch, training and wide dissemination; and (4) reinforced by prescription audit and feedback. Guidelines should be developed for each level of care (ranging from paramedical staff in primary health care clinics to specialist doctors in tertiary referral hospitals), based on prevalent clinical conditions and the skills of available prescribers. Evidence-based treatment recommendations and regular updating help to ensure credibility and acceptance of the guidelines by practitioners. Sufficient resources are needed to reimburse all those who contribute to the guidelines, and to cover the costs of printing, dissemination and training.