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Enhancing pharmaceutical management practices to improve availability and access to essential medicines

When HPIC conducted a needs assessment at nine facilities in Ghana as part of our Obataanpa maternal and child health project, we found that in addition to needing medicines and equipment for treatment, the facilities also lacked proper pharmaceutical management, including dispensary and inventory management staff, adequate storage conditions and space, and inventory control and records, including expiry date monitoring.

This is not an uncommon situation. In many countries, health systems and programs run into difficulty achieving their public health goals because they have not addressed how medicines are supplied, managed and used. Healthcare facilities in vulnerable communities often lack the necessary tools and skills in order to properly manage and track their inventory. Without adequate supply management practices, hospitals and clinics run the risk of wastages of the medicine provisions, including overstocking, pilferage and expiration of essential medicine.

While providing medicines and medical supplies is at the heart of what we do at HPIC, our projects must go beyond simply providing the treatments, and also include pharmaceutical management training to ensure that the medicines and supplies we provide are used effectively and efficiently, and do not go to waste.

As part of our three-year Obataanpa project, HPIC has been conducting training for facility staff to improve pharmaceutical management skills and systems. At the start of the project, HPIC worked with the local team to establish a distribution centre at the district level to ensure effective and safe storage and distribution of the medicines and supplies, complete with a laptop and software for inventory management. We also facilitated a training session for the workers on how to use the system, along with a detailed manual with user instructions for reference.

In addition to this, we coordinated training workshops in supply chain management for 17 workers from the participating health facilities, covering quality assurance, storage practices, inventory management, waste management, standard operating procedures and dispensing practices. The training was then followed by on-the-job training in each facility.

Through subsequent monitoring visits and pre- and post-training tests, we found that participants’ knowledge of pharmaceutical management increased from 58% to 74.5%, and the facilities showed a significant improvement in inventory management practices with an average score of 83% by September 2019, compared to 56% in May 2018.

“The training has helped us a lot. It motivated us to take some action. For example, we were keeping cleaning products in the storeroom with the medicine. After the training, we removed them outside. The storeroom was not organized. There was a leakage in the ceiling. After the training, we organized the storeroom and fixed the ceiling. Fumigation has been done. We also extended the shelves to make more space…we have also updated our inventory cards… We labelled the shelves. They were not labeled before…After the training, we knew that Canadians want to help us and this has motivated us.”

Maxwell Vedomecy, dispensary assistant at Abore Health Centre

Incorporating pharmaceutical management training into our projects ensures long-term, sustainable benefits to the health systems and enables the community to continue to thrive well after the project concludes.

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