A Survey on Morbidity Patterns and Drug Requirements at Primary Health Care Level, Sri Lanka. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 009 (1990)
(1990; 1 page)


A network of 1,000 institutions provides free health care for the entire population of Sri Lanka. The WHO Action Programme on Essential Drugs began a study in 1987 to collect the necessary information to formulate and sustain this supply system with a reasonable degree of efficiency. The study focused on three health regions in Sri Lanka that were representative of morbidity patterns across the country. Within each region, two outpatient primary health care (PHC) institutions and two inpatient and outpatient PHC institutions were selected. At each institution, standard treatment guidelines for outpatients were obtained by senior consultants and discussed with prescribers. The final six-month long project studied and analysed 170,942 outpatient and 9,126 inpatient cases. The results showed that nearly half of outpatient conditions could have been effectively managed at home with better patient education or were easily avoidable communicable diseases. Additionally, a large portion of outpatient conditions could have been treated with just a few drugs. The study also showed that morbidity patterns changed with age; most young patients suffered from infectious or parasitic diseases while older patients suffered from chronic conditions or deficiency diseases. When financial data was analysed the results showed that using standard treatment schedules could be up to ten times less expensive than not using such schedules. The researchers concluded that it is possible and practical to adopt standard treatment schedules for all patient types at PHC institutions, health education can be an effective tool for saving money, and schedules can provide a high level of health care quality. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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