WHO advocates that an essential drugs policy is a crucial ingredient in every country’s national health strategy. A national drug policy provides an invaluable strategic framework to identify national goals and commitments. It is a tool to increase confidence in and use of health services, improve access, quality, and rational use of drugs, and address national and international issues.
Despite an ever-increasing number of pharmaceutical products available worldwide, many people still do not have access to the drugs they need. Barriers to a reliable source of affordable, quality drugs are complex and go beyond simple financial constraints. To understand them it is necessary to look at the characteristics of the drug market, and to study the attitudes and behaviour of the main actors involved. Health sector development, economic reform and new global trade agreements all have a potential impact on the pharmaceutical situation in many countries.
Experience shows that at national level these complicated and interdependent problems can best be addressed within the common framework that a formal drug policy provides. The policy development and implementation process should engage the public and private sectors, professional bodies, consumers, academics and other concerned partners to create a common vision and a plan of action.
How to Develop and Implement a National Drug Policy discusses key policy components. These include selection of essential drugs, affordability, finance and supply, regulation and quality assurance, rational use, research, human resources, monitoring and evaluation.
These practical guidelines examine both ongoing problems and new challenges. Each chapter presents useful advice and references to other sources of more detailed technical information. A valuable resource for health professionals, policy-makers and researchers, this publication is designed to take readers through the process of planning, developing, implementing and monitoring a comprehensive policy framework based on a country’s unique needs, priorities and resources.