Group of Doctors working in a clinic in Kisumu, Kenya
caption Credit: US Army Africa/ Rick Scavetta (CC BY2.0)

Medicines in Health Systems

The goal of the Medicines in Health Systems Thematic Working Group (TWG) is to facilitate positive change in medicines availability, access, affordability, quality, and use, by informing and facilitating dialogue among different stakeholders in systems.

The Medicines in Health Systems TWG was founded in 2014.

Objectives

  • Highlight the importance of medicines in health systems among Health System Global (HSG) members, TWGs, and beyond.
  • Identify the needs of stakeholders to effectively address medicines situations in health systems.
  • Facilitate constructive dialogue among stakeholders within and across systems, with the goal of generating ideas for innovations in how medicines are produced, delivered, financed, and used in pluralistic health systems.
  • Strengthen capacity of HSG members and others in generating evidence on medicines in health systems, with the goal of establishing a portfolio of evidence on the impacts of medicines management and policy approaches within and across systems
  • Disseminate applied research evidence and other policy-relevant information early and efficiently to each relevant system stakeholder.

Activities

  • Generate, share and discuss evidence on medicines in health systems through:
  • Build capacity and leadership in the area of medicines within health systems.
  • Network globally with professionals and organization on medicines in health systems.
  • Collaborate with other TWGs on medicines in health systems.

Upcoming events

Measuring and Evaluating Social Outcomes of Medicines Access Initiatives
Wednesday October 28th at 14:00-15:00 CET / 13:00-14:00 GMT / 09:00-10:00 EDT
Presenters: Richard Laing, Monica Onyango, Boston University
Commentators: Executives from Novartis Global Health and Corporate Responsibility Department.
Register here

News and views

News and views

Access the latest blog posts and news items from the Medicines in Health Systems TWG.

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Facilitators

Sachiko Ozawa

Sachiko Ozawa

Co-Chair

Veronika Wirtz

Veronika Wirtz

Co- Chair

Samuel Orubu

Samuel Orubu

Coordinator

Hazel Bradley

Hazel Bradley

Coordinator

Sachiko Ozawa

Sachiko Ozawa

Co-Chair

Sachiko Ozawa is an Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. She received her MHS and PhD from the Department of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Sachiko is a health economist whose work focuses on generating evidence to improve access to vaccines and quality medicines. She is interested in the interface between pharmacy and public health, conducting research on the value of vaccines and the economic impact of substandard and falsified medicines.

Veronika Wirtz

Veronika Wirtz

Co- Chair

Veronika Wirtz MSc PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Global Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, where she is also director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Pharmaceutical Policy. Her research focuses on health system strengthening and policy and program evaluations of medicines access and utilization. She is a visiting professor of the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) in Mexico where she was researcher and lecturer from 2004-12. Between 2014 and 2016 she was the co-chair of The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicine Policies.

Samuel Orubu

Samuel Orubu

Coordinator

Samuel Orubu is a Nigerian and UK-trained pharmacist. As a postdoctoral associate at Boston University, USA, he is part of the Social Innovation on Drug Resistance (SIDR) program, an innovative, interdisciplinary initiative to address antimicrobial resistance. He holds a PhD in pharmaceutics from University College London, UK. Samuel has lectured and supervised pharmacy students both in Nigeria and the UK. His research has been published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, Health Policy and Planning, and the International Journal of Pharmaceutics among others.

Hazel Bradley

Hazel Bradley

Coordinator

Hazel Bradley leads the area of specialization in Pharmaceutical Public Health within the Master of Public Health at the School of Public Health (SOPH), University of the Western Cape, South Africa. She teaches courses in public health, rational medicines use, pharmaceutical policy and management and medicines supply management. From 2013-2017 she was the Senior Academic Programme Co-ordinator at the SOPH. Hazel’s current research areas include systems approaches to investigate and improve medicines management and access; pharmaceutical human resources and district-level services; and pharmaceutical and public health education and training. Hazel trained as a pharmacist in the UK and, prior to joining the SOPH in 2003, worked with a Cape Town NGO delivering community-based primary health care services.

'Access to Medicines through Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries'

'Access to Medicines through Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries'

In December 2019, the Supplement ‘Access to Medicines in Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries’, for which the Medicines in Health Systems TWG had called for papers and organized, was published in Health Policy and Planning 34.3. It presents five original articles and an editorial, mainly by authors from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) united in the unique focus on medicines access from the perspective of achieving universal health coverage (UHC). Specifically, it examines access through availability, affordability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality – meaning how to make sure that people can use the right medicines of the right quality at the right price and at the right place.

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Publications and resources

Access to Medicines through Health Systems in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Sachiko Ozawa, Raja Shankar, Christine Leopold and Samuel Orubu

This supplement demonstrates the implications of poor medicine access and highlights recent innovations to improve access to essential medicines by presenting new research findings from LMICs.

Performance-based financing (PBF) is being implemented across LMICs to improve the availability and quality of health services, including medicines. The research aimed to explore how PBF in Cameroon influenced the availability of essential medicines, and to understand the pathways leading to the experiential dimension related with the observed changes.

Policies to improve access to medicines for children in LMICs, such as Nigeria, should consider the growing threat of non-communicable diseases. The aim of this pilot study was to scope availability, price and affordability of essential cardiovascular medicines for children in selected states in Nigeria.

This article aims to describe the inappropriate use of medicines in the Brazilian urban population and to identify associated factors.

Poor-Quality Antimalarials Further Health Inequities in Uganda

Daniel R. Evans, Colleen R. Higgins, Sarah K. Laing, Phyllis Awor and Sachiko Ozawa

Substandard and falsified medications are a major threat to public health, directly increasing the risk of treatment failure, antimicrobial resistance, morbidity, mortality and health expenditures. While antimalarial medicines are one of the most common to be of poor quality in LMICs, their distributional impact has not been examined. This study assessed the health equity impact of substandard and falsified antimalarials among children under five in Uganda.

Universal health coverage (UHC) aims to ensure that all people have access to health services including essential medicines without risking financial hardship. Yet, in many LMICs inadequate UHC fails to ensure universal access to medicines and protect the poor and vulnerable against catastrophic spending in the event of illness. This research presents national law makers with both a checklist and a wish list for legal reform for access to medicines, as well as examples of legal texts.