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Despite increased investments in procurement of essential medicines, their availability at health facilities remains extremely low in many low- and middle-income countries. The lack of a well-functioning supply chain for essential medicines is often the cause of this poor availability. Using a randomized trial conducted in 439 health facilities and 24 districts in Zambia, this study helps understand the optimal supply chain structure for essential medicines distribution in the public sector in low-income countries. It shows that a more direct distribution system where clinics order and receive medicines supply directly from the central agency through a cross-docking arrangement significantly reduces the duration and frequency of stockouts compared to a traditional three-level drug distribution system. As an example, the frequency of stockouts for first line pediatric malaria medicines reduced from 47.9% to 13.3% and the number of days of stockout in a quarter reduced from 27 days to 5 days. The direct flow of demand and order information from health facilities to the central supply agency reduces the problem of diffuse accountability that exists in multi-tiered distribution systems. It also shifts the locus of decision making for complex supply chain functions such as scarce stock allocation and adjustment of health facility order quantities to levels in the system where staff competency is aligned with what the function needs. Even when supply chain system redesign such as the one evaluated in this paper are demonstrated to be technically robust using rigorous evidence, they often require navigating a complex political economy within the overall health system and its actors.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Health systems and reform
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Drugs considered essential to meet the health needs of a population as well as to control drug costs. (World Health Organization Action Programme on Essential Drugs, 1994, p3)
Drugs which have received FDA approval for human testing but have yet to be approved for commercial marketing. This includes drugs used for treatment while they still are undergoing clinical trials (Treatment IND). The main heading includes drugs under investigation in foreign countries.
Countries in the process of change directed toward economic growth, that is, an increase in production, per capita consumption, and income. The process of economic growth involves better utilization of natural and human resources, which results in a change in the social, political, and economic structures.
Improving the NUTRITIONAL VALUE of plant foods by augmenting the plant's environment, by using PLANT BREEDING, or by GENETIC ENGINEERING plants to increase their ability to synthesize VITAMINS or uptake essential NUTRIENTS from the soil.
A cabinet department in the Executive Branch of the United States Government concerned with improving and maintaining farm income and developing and expanding markets for agricultural products. Through inspection and grading services it safeguards and insures standards of quality in food supply and production.
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