The group reviewed the usefulness and relevance of the two methods for cross national comparison.
Cross national comparison: the NDP indicators
The strengths of the indicators for a cross national analysis include:
• A high percentage of the indicators is relevant and useful in low and middle income countries: 80-90% of the indicators have been adopted by all countries included in the research.
• The indicators can be applied in national contexts and measure trends when collected over time.
• Data can be obtained at relatively low cost, compared to the amount of resources - public and private - which are spent on drugs.
• The logical framework (ST/PR/OT) is helpful for the interpretation of findings.
These strengths, associated with the fact that the method provides standardized results, make it possible to identify common problems and solutions and to learn through the comparison of the findings. The structural, background and outcome indicators are more useful for international comparison; for the process indicators, targets should normally be set at national level. To facilitate comparison, the group tried to introduce a rating system for all types of indicators. The same kind of system was used for developing Annex 5. However, additional efforts are needed to find optimal ways to relate indicators results to the overall scores and to weigh indicators, as all have not the same importance.
The group reviewed also some of the limitations of the indicators for cross national comparison, which include:
• the indicators are less easy to apply in countries with poor infrastructure and lack of reliable data;
• it is sometimes difficult to draw causal conclusions as outcomes are often multifactoral; in addition, multiple changes can occur over a single time, which makes it difficult to draw strong conclusions about a single factor.
Cross national comparison: the political mapping
The strengths of political mapping for cross national comparison include:
• the development of systematic political analyses, which can be compared across countries, to help in assessing the effectiveness of different political strategies for the promotion of national drug policies;
• the in-depth analysis of the policy process, which helps in assessing the feasibility of adopting different policy innovations, and the problems of implementation for national drug policies.