The Role of Education in the Rational Use of Medicines. SEARO Technical Publication Series No. 045
(2006; 99 pages)


The rational use of medicines (RUM) contributes to high-quality health care while irrational use leads to health hazards and wastage of resources that are already insufficient in the majority of health care systems. Overuse, underuse or misuse of medicines that characterize irrational use has been called a problem beyond rationality that persists and is difficult to eliminate. Continuous training is required, combined with monitoring, feedback and reinforcement. Educating all concerned in the appropriate and correct use of medicines becomes a critical strategy to solve the problem of irrational use.

This document presents an account of activities to promote RUM in the WHO South-East Asia Region, in particular, and in other regions as well, providing an overview of the situation. Twelve core interventions that could potentially improve the use of medicines are enunciated that cover medicine use policy; clinical guidelines; essential medicines list; drugs and therapeutic committees; pharmacotherapy teaching; continuing medical education; supervision, audit and feedback; independent medical information; public education; avoidance of perverse financial incentives; enforced regulation and sufficient government support. Three educational strategies are also provided that deal with training of providers, printed materials and media-based approaches highlighting the importance of education in promoting the rational use of medicines. Ten factors that influence the use of medicines are also enumerated as well as four strategies such as educational, managerial, economic and regulatory approaches that are important in improving the use of medicines. In addition, ten recommendations are listed to suggest policy options for health managers and planners to improve the use of medicines in developing countries...

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