Essential Drugs Monitor No. 001 (1985)
(1985; 8 pages) [French] [Spanish]


The first edition of the Essential Drugs Monitor opens with a note from the editor describing the Monitor’s goal of updating interested parties on the progress of the Action Programme and other developments in the field and stimulating conversation surrounding the essential drugs concept. The feature article in this edition is an interview with Dr. Wilfred Koinange, Director of Medical Services in Kenya and a member of WHO’s Executive Board. In the interview, Dr. Koinange discussed Kenya’s system of essential drug supply to rural areas. He explained that “ration kits” are centrally packed and distributed directly to the consuming health centre or dispensary, and the kits have enough essential medicines for 3,000 patients. Furthermore, he added that there is no wastage or spoilage because of the limited number of drugs and the careful calculation of which drugs to include. Dr. Koinange emphasized the success of the strategy but noted that problems still exist in the urban district hospitals with drug distribution, ordering and prescribing. However, Dr. Koinange stated because 85% of Kenyans live in rural areas, focus was first concentrated on those areas.

This Monitor also includes an article that describes what the Action Programme on Essential Drugs has accomplished and how different countries and groups have adopted the essential drugs concept. There is a short review of Kenya’s essential drug programme by an evaluation team; it states that the programme has met most of its objectives but could improve in areas like training, health education and community participation. Tanzania’s essential drugs project was also evaluated and was reported to have eliminated the shortage of drugs in rural areas but could improve by packaging and distributing the kits in Tanzania. At the time of the evaluation, the kits were packaged and shipped from UNICEF in Copenhagen, Denmark. One Newsdesk article discusses the introduction of the essential drugs concept to Central America, and another focuses on the increase in rational use within the Eastern Mediterranean. At the end of this issue, several new WHO findings and developments are highlighted including a formula for oral rehydration salts, a low-budget quality control strategy, and an updated price chart for EPI vaccines.

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