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The WHO Medicines Strategy 2000-2003 identifies policy, access, quality and safety, and rational use as its four major objectives. In 2001, our medicines activities focused on extending the evidence base in each of these four areas. We applied that evidence to help countries improve access to affordable medicines of good quality, and ensure that those medicines were used to secure maximum health impact.
Our support to countries and regions included significant capacity-building, with courses and training for health professionals all around the world. Training was often carried out with collaborating institutions. All support was carefully tailored to meet country and regional needs (Box 1).
In parallel to regional and country activities, we provided guidance in support of major new medicines initiatives. This included technical advice to the European Commission, and to the Global Fund to Fight Tuberculosis, AIDS and Malaria. Concurrently, we continued to work with the wider UN family, nongovernmental organizations and foundations.
In 2002, major impetus is on public financing of medicines and improving the capacity of supply systems to deliver medicines of assured quality. Efforts to further broaden our partnership base will also continue, so that medicines issues are tackled rapidly, using the full range of expertise available globally.
Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, Executive Director Health Technology and Pharmaceuticals
Dr Jonathan Quick, Director Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy
Principal area of support to countries and regions
In 2001, support was provided to 132 countries, or 66% of WHO Member States. Top areas of assistance were:
• national drug policy development - 84 countries
• medicines regulation and quality assurance - 65 countries
• rational medicines use by health professionals - 62 countries.
The relative emphasis of support varied among the regions:
• African Region: national drug policy development and access
• Americas Region: information for medicines regulation
• Eastern Mediterranean Region: medicines regulation and quality assurance
• European Region: medicines financing mechanisms
• South-East Asia Region: rational use of medicines by health professionals
• Western Pacific Region: medicines regulation and quality assurance.