The workshop was informal with a high degree of participation from country teams as well as facilitators. A large amount of preparatory work had been done by country teams and facilitators and the discussions reflected this (see Annex 3: Agenda).
The first session of the workshop was devoted to opening remarks by Dr F.S. Antezana, Assistant Director General, and by Dr J. Quick, Director of the Action Programme on Essential Drugs and to the presentation of the objectives and the agenda by Mrs P. Brudon, who was also the main coordinator of the research.
In his presentation, Dr F.S. Antezana pointed out that essential drugs were a corner stone of the 1978 Alma Ata declaration on primary health care and that the concept of essential drugs reflected the Organization's basic principle for equity. Today, in a time of global change, essential drugs and national drug policies were an important aspect of any health sector reform and he hoped that the present research project would come up with ideas and strategies on how to address changes at global and country levels.
Dr J. Quick, stressed the fact that 20 years ago only a few countries had national drug policies (e.g. Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Sri Lanka). Today more than 60 countries have national drug policies and a few others were in the process of formulating a national drug policy. The research was therefore very timely. It would assist in better understanding how NDPs work and in addition it would allow assessment of the two methods used; Dr Quick felt that such multicountry research was the right approach for DAP. He believed that an important task would be to put the research results into practice and to ensure that ministries of health were fully involved in the discussions and dissemination of the results.
The second session was devoted to the evaluation of NDP performance through the application of the WHO indicators for monitoring NDP. The session had three main objectives: to share the experiences of the countries in carrying out the indicators' assessment, to solve any methodological problems encountered by the country teams in applying the indicators, and to discuss the method, the findings, and the analysis and interpretation of the findings.
The session included short presentations by countries on the ways they applied the indicators, the results (especially what they have learnt) and the main problems encountered. This was followed by comments and questions by two discussants and by a general discussion. The main features of these country presentations have been included in the relevant parts of Chapter IV. Working groups were then established to review methodological problems: one was looking at the sampling issues, the second one reviewed the methods to calculate a basket of drugs and the third one concentrated on indicators and suggestions to improve some of them. The groups assembled again in plenary and presented their recommendations. A review of the issues discussed can be found in Chapter IV. The last part of the session was allotted to preliminary discussions on the relevance of the indicators to assess each NDP, on the findings in terms of policy achievements and on the analysis of the findings to better understand policy process. The conclusions of the deliberations are provided in Chapter IV.
The third session was devoted to political mapping. Each of the six countries which undertook political mapping presented its results and the problems encountered. This was followed by a group discussion on the results of the mapping exercise and its use in assessing policy process. More information is provided in Chapter IV.
The fourth session focused on what could be learnt at this preliminary stage on national drug policies through cross national comparisons and on the relevance of the two methods for cross national approach. Three working groups reviewed the results of each country and began to identify what works and does not work across countries, common patterns in policy implementation and factors which enable or prevent the formulation and implementation of successful NDP. They also assessed the usefulness of the indicators and the political mapping for international comparison. More specific comments are included in Chapter IV.
The fifth and concluding session discussed the next steps: time schedule for the preparation of the final country reports, strategies for publication and dissemination of the results, funding issues, etc. The main decisions agreed upon are summarized in Chapter V.