- All > Medicine Access and Rational Use > Supply Management
- All > Medicine Programme Coordination > Human Resources for Pharmaceutical Sector
(2014; 19 pages)
Approximately a third of the world population – and about half in the most underdeveloped settings – have been estimated to lack access to essential medicines and diagnostics. Effective supply chains are vital to deliver essential health commodities. In high-income countries the availability of medicines in the public and private sector is taken as a given: quality assurance is managed by robust national regulatory agencies; supply and distribution are increasingly privatized, with performance measured against timeliness and cost. Conversely, in many low- and middle-income countries, stock-outs of essential commodities are commonplace, with a mean availability of core medicines in the public sector ranging from 38.2% in sub-Saharan Africa to 57.7 % in Latin America and the Caribbean. Vulnerability of supply chain functions also increases the potential for the entry of counterfeit and substandard products.
While availability of medicines is determined by multiple factors, there is a growing recognition of the need to address human resources requirements for supply chain systems. A systematic review of the global pharmacy workforce revealed a dearth of evidence from low- and middle- income countries. It also underscored several challenges, including inadequate numbers of pharmacists and pharmacy support workforce cadres, issues of maldistribution (across public and private sectors, and urban and rural areas), uneven implementation of education, staff management and retention strategies. Further, this study did not find evidence on the broader range of health logisticians and supply chain managers. Other analyses focused on low- and middle-income settings have highlighted dramatic supply chain workforce shortages, with some countries facing vacancy rates up to 71% for public sector posts that would require accredited pharmaceutical training. This situation is often determined by a combination of insufficient training capacity as well as 100-150% higher wages in the private sector as compared to the public sector...