The total number of copies required, to cover all the target audience (all prescribers and pharmacy personnel) over the expected maximum three-year life-span of the edition, was determined as accurately as possible from the information available. Gathering information on the numbers of personnel was a lengthy process, due partly to the number of institutions (which included some 50 hospitals and 500 health centres) and individuals concerned and partly to the unavailability, outdatedness or incompleteness of information on personnel in both the Government and mission sectors. Difficulties were also experienced in obtaining accurate estimates of the numbers of students expected to enter the various health training institutions during the three-year life-span of the first edition. A margin of 5-10% was added to cover contingencies. Insufficient copies of both MSTG 1 and MSTG 2 were printed as the number of health personnel and institutions involved was under-estimated.
Careful identification of the target audience and estimation of the number of copies required to cover the expected life-span of the publication is very important.
This process may be complicated and lengthy depending on how difficult it is to obtain reliable and up-to-date information on numbers of personnel and health units.
• Sufficient time should be allowed to estimate requirements.
• The process should be carried out well before the anticipated completion of the document for printing.
• Sufficient copies should be printed to last until any future edition is produced and to cover unexpected demand.
Over a period of two months, 5,000 copies were distributed, both as personal and institutional copies, throughout the public and private health sectors, to the following:
• Clinicians: specialists, doctors, clinical officers, medical assistants;
• Pharmacy personnel: pharmacists, pharmacy assistants;
• Senior nurses: matrons, ward sisters;
• Senior policy-makers and health professionals within the Ministry of Health;
• Staff and students of health training institutions, (including sufficient for the anticipated student intake over the next three-year period).
• Health institutions: central, district, rural and special hospitals, health centres;
• Relevant hospital departments: e.g., outpatients, wards, pharmacy, casualty, etc.;
• Disease control programmes, e.g. malaria, diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infections/ tuberculosis, AIDS Control Programme;
• Regional health offices and regional medical stores;
• Health related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Malawi: e.g. UNICEF, International Red Cross, Médecins sans Frontières;
• A selection of international health agencies and of individuals working in the provision of drug and therapeutic information: e.g. WHO/DAP, other Essential Drugs Programmes, editors of national drug bulletins;
• Anglophone African countries (through the respective World Health Organization representatives).
were intended to be retained and used by individual prescribers whereas institutional copies were to be kept within each health centre or hospital ward/department for ready access by health staff not receiving individual (personal) copies. Each hospital was also allocated a number of spare copies for the hospital library or District Health Officer’s (DHO) office.