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  1. 1. According to the World Health Organisation, essential drugs are "those that satisfy the primaryhealth care needs of the population."To promote this idea, in 1995 SATELLIFE and a group of volunteer moderators started E-Drug,the English language discussion group of essentialdrugs.org. Its objective is to support theconcept of essential drugs by improving and speeding up communications among all healthprofessionals working in the field of essential drugs. Discussions focus on topics such as rationaluse of drugs, drug policy, economics and financing, supply and marketing, legislation andregulation, quality assurance and safety, and training. E-drug is specifically targeted to healthworkers in developing countries, and is based on simple off-line e-mail technology.WHO further recommends that "essential medicines are selected with due regard to diseaseprevalence, evidence on efficacy and safety, and comparative cost-effectiveness. Essentialmedicines are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at alltimes in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at a pricethe individual and the community can afford."The concept of essential drugs was launched in 1977, and became one of the eight pillars ofWHOs "Primary Health Care" strategy. Every two years an expert committee updates the WHOlist of essential drugs. The list serves as a model for countries to adapt to their needs.The essential drugs concept can be applied in all countries, and at various levels (national,provincial, district, hospital). The essential drug concept is especially valuable in poor-resourcesettings, as it allows one to get the best medicines for the resources available. The concentrationon a few essential drugs has also lowered prices, due to economies of scale.The essentialdrugs.org website was launched in 2002 (the 25th anniversary of the essential drugconcept) as there is a growing need to collect, store and exchange essential drug informationamong health workers. We would like to collect National Drug Policy documents, EssentialDrug Lists, National Formularies, Standard Treatment Guidelines and price/quality informationfrom all countries and regions. If your national documents are not yet available, please emailthem to this address: e-drug-upload@healthnet.orgIn 2002, WHO changed the name of "essential drugs" into "essential medicines." In this website,essential drugs and essential medicines have the same meaning.E-DRUG Spin-offsFrench (E-MED) and Spanish (E-FARMACOS) language versions followed in 1998 and 2000.These discussion groups have their own character, as they serve different communities. Tosupport the creation of an international network of drug information centres, INDICES wasinitiated in 1997. In 2002, INDIA-DRUG was started to foster a national email discussion groupon the rational use of drugs. SATELLIFE staff and the moderators of E-DRUG, E-MED, E-FARMACOS, and INDICES are willing to support other regional or special interest groups.
  2. 2. The SATELLIFE staff and moderators welcome your visit to essentialdrugs.org!About INDIA-DRUGINDIA-DRUG is a collaborative effort among the WHO-India Programme on Essential Drugs,the Delhi Society for the Rational Use of Drugs (DSPRUD), and SATELLIFE. Spreading vitalinformation around the world, INDIA-DRUG is a country-focused version of SATELLIFEselectronic discussion groups on essential drugs. INDIA-DRUG is used by health careprofessionals to obtain and discuss current information on essential drugs, policy, programactivities, education and training. Members also use INDIA-DRUG to announce and learn ofupcoming conferences or courses in their field.How to Develop and Implement a National Drug Policy How to Develop and Implement a National Drug Policy (Second Edition) Download full version [pdf 353kb]In 1975, the World Health Assembly in resolution WHA28.66 requested WHO to develop meansto assist Member States in formulating national drug policies. It also urged WHO to assistcountries in implementing strategies, such as the selection of essential drugs and appropriateprocurement of quality drugs based on health needs, and in providing education and training invarious elements of pharmaceutical programmes. This resolution was followed by a series ofevents that marked the evolution of country drug programmes with the assistance of WHO.The first WHO Model List of Essential Drugs was published in 1977. A year later he WHO/UNICEFConference on Primary Health Care at Alma-Ata included access to essential drugs as one of the eightelements of primary health care. In 1979, he WHO Action Programme on Essential Drugs wasestablished. Another landmark in promoting strategies to improve the pharmaceutical situation incountries was he 1985 Conference of Experts on Rational Use of Drugs in Nairobi. The following year’sWorld Health Assembly adopted resolutions that reflected the Conference recommendations onpromoting rational use. Also in 1986, a WHO Expert Committee on National Drug Policies met todevelop practical guidance for Member States, published as Guidelines for developing national drugpolicies.1 This publication has proved very useful over the years.
  3. 3. The efforts of countries, WHO and other agencies have had a considerable impact. The number ofpeople with access to essential drugs has grown from roughly 2,100 million in 1977 to an estimated3,800 million in 1999. By 1999, 66 countries had formulated or updated a national drug policy within theprevious 10 years, compared with 14 countries in 1989. By the end of 1999, 156 WHO Member Stateshad a national essential drugs list; 127 of the lists had been revised within the previous five years.Nevertheless, problems of access to quality drugs and rational use persist. Although few hard data areavailable, it is likely that in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia more than half the population still lacksaccess to essential drugs. And there are new challenges that may have an impact on access, such as theexpansion of the private sector’s role in pharmaceuticals, health sector reforms and the effects ofglobalization. The changing pattern of diseases, antimicrobial resistance and emerging new diseases areother factors. Particularly important is the current trend of governments to reduce health care spendingbecause of inadequate resources, despite increasing health needs.After a decade, and with new problems to be addressed, there was a clear need to revise the 1988guidelines. The Expert Committee on National Drug Policies met in 1995 to review the currentpharmaceutical situation and to start the updating process. Their deliberations resulted in a report thatbecame the basis of the present guidelines. These updated guidelines focus on the national drug policyprocess, strategies and options which can be used by Member States and organizations active in thepharmaceutical sector. Each policy component is discussed, with a focus on current problems and newchallenges. And each chapter presents strategies and practical approaches that can be used to improvethe situation. All chapters include references to publications that provide additional technical andpractical details. How to Develop and Implement a National Drug Policy (Second Edition)Continuity and ChangeImplementing the third WHO Medicines Strategy 2008-2013 Download high resolution document Download low resolution document Download 6 page summary documentContinuity and Change – Implementing the third WHO Medicines Strategy 2008-2013, providespractical guidance to WHO and stakeholders on how the essential medicines concept and
  4. 4. WHO’s expertise will be used to promote universal access and patient-centred health care for all.It presents priorities for action by WHO as a guide for future investment and planning decisions,and serves as a user-friendly document for stakeholders.WHO’s work in the area of pharmaceuticals has existed for 60 years – as long as WHO itself.During this time many products and services have been created which are widely recognized ascore functions of WHO. Countries, organizations, industry, health-care providers and patientsrely on these core services. The strategic implementation plan also builds on achievements of thelast decade such as the WHO/UN Prequalification of Medicines Programme, without which itwould not have been possible to treat 4 million HIV/AIDS patients with safe and effectivemedicines, and the WHO/Health Action International (HAI) survey methodology, without whichmedicine prices, availability and affordability could not have been measured in over 50 countriesas part of MDG monitoring.The strategy also describes how WHO contributes towards the achievement of the health-relatedMDGs, the implementation of recent World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions, the WHOMedium-Term Strategic Plan for 2008-2013 and the priorities of the Director-General.