Indicators for Monitoring National Drug Policies
(1999; 250 pages) [French] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER I: Introduction
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER II: Development of the manual
Close this folderCHAPTER III: Model lists of indicators
View the documentBackground information
View the documentStructural indicators
View the documentProcess indicators
View the documentOutcome indicators
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER IV: Methodology for indicator calculation
Open this folder and view contentsCHAPTER V: Detailed presentation of indicators
Open this folder and view contentsANNEX 1: Data collection forms
View the documentANNEX 2: Glossary
View the documentANNEX 3: Table of random numbers
View the documentBACK COVER

Background information

These 31 indicators provide background information on the demographic, economic, health and pharmaceutical contexts in which drug policy is implemented in a given country. They are quantitative data, usually available at the central level. The information can be used to help identify major problems in health status, in the health system and in the drug sector. The indicators provide basic data that a policy-maker responsible for the drug sector should know and have available. They should generally be updated annually.

This background information can be used by national policy-makers for discussing drug policy within the broader national health context and by international experts for assessing the country situation. Some of the indicators may be useful in cross-national comparisons of drug policy implementation. Some are also used in calculating subsequent indicators.

Field tests have shown that the background information can be collected in a few days, if adequate access exists to key personnel in the health sector. Most of these indicators are provided in the annual reports of major international organizations (e.g. the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank). However, in a few countries, some information, mainly on financial aspects, may be difficult to collect and not very reliable. It is then important to review each indicator, and to determine its usefulness in the national context and the level of "precision" which is needed. A model data summary form (Summary Form 1) is provided in Annex 1 (when filling it in, do not forget to indicate the year for which the information has been collected and the source).

Country information

Population data

BG1: Total population
BG2: Average annual growth of the population
BG3: Percentage of the total population living in urban areas
BG4: Life expectancy (years)

Economic data

BG5: GNP per capita
BG6: Average annual rate of inflation

Health information

Health status data

BG7: Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births)
BG8: Maternal mortality rate (per 100,000 live births)
BG9: Top five causes and rate of infant morbidity
BG10: Top five causes and rate of infant mortality
BG11: Top five causes and rate of adult morbidity
BG12: Top five causes and rate of adult mortality

Health system data

BG13: Total number of prescribers
BG14: Total public health budget
BG15: Total value of international aid for the health sector
BG16: Total health expenditure (public + households + international aid)

Drug sector information

Economic data8

BG17: Total public drug expenditure7
BG18: Total value of international aid for drugs (cash + kind)
BG19: Total drug expenditure (public + households + international aid)9
BG20: Total value of local production (ex-factory price) sold in the country
BG21: Total value of drug imports (CIF)
BG22: Total value of drugs under generic name (CIF price for imported drugs and ex-factory price for locally produced drugs) sold in the country


7 Public finance is understood as general government revenues and compulsory health insurance (sometimes known as social insurance) that is either publicly managed or heavily regulated by governments. Private finance includes out-of-pocket payments and voluntary health insurance.

8 From BG17 to BG22: when data do not distinguish between drugs and other supplies, try to estimate the percentage that corresponds to drugs and record this estimate.

9 If there is a sizeable illegal market, some realistic estimations of the share of this market in drug expenditures should be given.

Human resources

BG23: Total number of pharmacists
BG24: Total number of pharmacy technicians or other aides/assistants

Drug sector organization

BG25: Total number of drug manufacturing units in the country
BG26: Total number of wholesalers in the country
BG27: Total number of pharmacies and drug outlets in the public sector (including health facilities and hospitals that dispense drugs)
BG28: Total number of pharmacies and drug outlets in the private sector
BG29: Total number of private pharmacies and drug outlets in the three major urban areas

Number of drugs

BG30: Total number of registered drugs (in dosage forms and strengths)10
BG31: Total number of drugs on the national essential drugs list (in INN)


10 In some countries the number of registered drugs is considerably higher than the number of drugs currently on the market. In such cases, countries are advised to add an indicator: "Number of drugs currently on the market".

to previous section
to next section
The WHO Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal was designed and is maintained by Human Info NGO. Last updated: March 20, 2014