An Evaluation of WHO's Action Programme on Essential Drugs
(1989; 144 pages)


After 10 years of existence of the Essential Drugs Programme several countries felt the need to evaluate donor supported national essential drugs programmes. The Royal Tropical Institute, the Netherlands, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK were contracted to undertake the evaluation which included a policy study; an analysis of 13 country case studies, reviews of regional co-operation activities in Asia and Latin America, drugs policies in Franco-phone Africa and WHO’s regional offices support for the Action Programme on Essential Drugs; and a synthesis into the final report of an evaluation of UNICEF’s supply and procurement division which was done by Societe Generale de Surveillance, The 13 country studies and regional studies were carried out by separate consultants contracted by some of the donors.

This evaluation provides a comprehensive analysis of the development of the WHO Action Programme on Essential Drugs over the period 1978-1989. It shows that WHO has been successful in its advocacy and communications role, and has provided important technical support in a number of countries. The evidence shows that the strategies employed by the Drug Action Programme have had a positive impact on the understanding, on the acceptance and on the implementation of the essential drugs concept.

The report concludes that although the essential drugs concept is widely recognized, and many countries are developing national drugs policies, the role of WHO as promoter and advocate of the concept as well as provider of technical support is still crucial. WHO should in the 1990’s maintain the momentum established in the 1980’s and continue to use its prestige and position as an international specialist agency to promote the essential drugs concept globally and to endorse and support the efforts of member countries to develop policies and implement strategies ensuring the availability, accessibility and rational use of essential drugs in the context of Primary Health care.

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