The Development of the Essential Drugs Program and Implications for Self-Reliance in Tanzania
(1995; 18 pages)


The study reprinted here has been published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1991.

In this paper, Professor Munishi provides a historical overview of Tanzania's experience with essential drugs as it evolved during the 1970s and 1980s. The initiation of the essential drugs program grew out of the economic crisis that had been brewing during the beginning of this period and came to a head in the early 1980s. As a result, Tanzania ran out of foreign exchange, and the country's supply of drugs - almost all either purchased from abroad or made from imported raw materials - declined drastically.

In 1984, the government of Denmark stepped forward with an offer to meet the Tanzanian Government's entire need for essential drugs in its rural facilities. To distribute the drugs purchased with Danish assistance, a special strategy was developed. It involved the preparation of uniform packages or kits of essential drugs at the Copenhagen central procurement agency of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), with which the Tanzanian and Danish governments contracted to operate the program; the shipment of these kits directly to distribution points in Tanzania...

Other program components have not been implemented successfully to insure the program's sustainability and self-reliance. There is a need to improve local production, quality assurance capability, inspection, intersectoral linkages and active local participation in shouldering the financial burden.

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