In each WHO region, areas of support are tailored to specific country needs
Policy: implementation and monitoring
Access: public sector drug supply
Quality: medicines regulation, quality assurance and activities to fight anti-counterfeit medicines
Rational use: essential medicines lists, treatment guidelines
The year 2002 marked the 25th anniversary of the first WHO Model List of Essential Medicines. It also marked the 25th annual meeting of the WHO International Monitoring Network for Medicines Safety. In 25 years, much has been achieved: 100 countries have national drug policies in place or under development; 156 countries have national or provincial essential medicines lists; 135 countries have turned the essential medicines concept into clinical practice with national treatment guidelines and/or formulary manuals; over 90 countries have introduced the essential drugs concept into curricula for medicine and pharmacy students; the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring now includes 76 member and associate member countries; and a major global effort has been launched to assure medicines quality. Most significantly, the number of people estimated to have regular access to essential drugs has risen from 2.1 billion in 1977 to over 4 billion today.
But despite these gains, a huge unfinished agenda remains. Roughly two billion people - one-third of the world’s population - still lacks regular access to essential medicines of affordable price and assured quality. Irrational use of medicines, unfair financing, unreliable delivery systems, inadequate regulatory systems and high medicines prices are critical factors in this access gap.
This report focuses on WHO country support activities aimed at closing the access gap. In line with the WHO Medicines Strategy, WHO provided support to countries on: medicines regulation, quality assurance and anti-counterfeit activities (69 countries); rational use of medicines by health professionals (54); public sector drug supply (54); overall national drug policy development and monitoring (41); medicines financing and pricing (27); improving medicines use by consumers (25); and setting of pharmaceutical norms and standards (21). This support included training in these areas to nearly 900 health professionals.
WHO supported comprehensive medicines programmes in 22 countries, specific technical support in 85 countries and situation analysis in 6 countries. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan received the most intensive support in financial terms.
Country experiences reported here confirm that when sound policies and guidelines are actively implemented, substantial improvements can be achieved in affordability, availability, quality and rational use of medicines. Progress is often greatest when local officials and development partners work closely together.
Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, Executive Director
Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals
Dr Jonathan Quick, Director
Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy
Nearly 900 health professionals around the world received training in medicines areas through 28 regional and international courses and workshops, covering all six official UN languages
WHO provided direct support on essential drugs and medicines policy to 113 countries, of which 22 benefited from comprehensive programmes