Sustainable access to affordable, quality medicines is an important component
of health care but in many African countries it continues to be limited.
Commonly reported problems include poor supply chain management, pilfering of
stock, insufficient human resources and limited financing resulting in chronic
stock-outs. This study aims to gain a better understanding of some of the
different ways in which private sector pharmaceutical supply and distribution
channels are organized in Africa. To gain a broad perspective, this study
focuses on three very different country contexts: Ghana, Mali, and Malawi. These
countries represent significant geographic, economic, social and historical
differences. The countries in the study come from English and French-speaking
Africa; West and South-east Africa; have close ties with European sources vs.
links with other African and Indian pharmaceutical supply chains; draw upon
common law vs. civil law legal traditions and regulatory frameworks; are
dependent upon imports vs. local manufacturing capacity; and rely upon various
levels of public and private health care services. The focus of the study is
medicines; it does not address reactive or pharmaceutical devices. Interviews
were conducted over 1-2 week missions in each of the three countries
participating in the study. The project was conducted between July and October
2009. Data were drawn from interviews with actors at each level of the private
sector pharmaceutical supply and distribution chain and from secondary sources.