Promoting Rational Use of Medicines: Core Components - WHO Policy Perspectives on Medicines, No. 005, September 2002
(2002; 6 pages) [French] [Spanish] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentDefinition of rational use of medicines
View the documentThe problem of irrational use
View the documentAssessing the problem of irrational use
View the documentWorking towards rational use of medicines
Close this folderCore policies to promote more rational use of medicines
View the document1. A mandated multi-disciplinary national body to coordinate medicine use policies
View the document2. Clinical guidelines
View the document3. Essential medicines list based on treatments of choice
View the document4. Drugs and therapeutics committees in districts and hospitals
View the document5. Problem-based training in pharmacotherapy in undergraduate curricula
View the document6. Continuing in-service medical education as a licensure requirement
View the document7. Supervision, audit and feedback
View the document8. Independent medicine information
View the document9. Public education about medicines
View the document10. Avoidance of perverse financial incentives
View the document11. Appropriate and enforced regulation
View the document12. Sufficient government expenditure to ensure availability of medicines and staff
View the documentKey documents
View the documentContacts at WHO Headquarters

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.

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