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Bull World Health Organ. 1999;77(6):525-9.

Introducing management principles into the supply and distribution of medicines in Tunisia.

Abstract

A number of strategies have been proposed by various organizations and governments for rationalizing the use of drugs in developing countries. Such strategies include the use of essential drug lists, generic prescribing, and training in rational prescribing. None of these require doctors to become actively involved in the management of the drug supply to their health centres. In 1997, in the Kasserine region of Tunisia, the regional health authorities piloted a radically different strategy. This involved the theoretical allocation of a proportion of the regional drug budget to each district and subsequently to each health centre according to estimated demand. Medical staff were given responsibility for the management of these budgets, allowing them to control the nature and quantities of drugs supplied to the health centres in which they worked. This paper outlines the process by which this strategy was successfully implemented in the Foussana district of Kasserine region, and explores the problems encountered. It describes now the theoretical budgets were allocated to each district and how the costs of individual drugs and the consumption of drugs in the previous year were calculated. It then continues by giving an account of the training of the staff of the health centres, the preparation of a drug order form and the method of allocation of the theoretical budgets to each of the health centres. The results give an account of how the prescribing habits of doctors were changed as a result of the strategy, in order to take into account the costs of the drugs that they prescribed. They show how the health centres were able to manage their budgets, spending overall 99.8% of the budget allocated to the district. They outline some of the changes in the prescribing habits that took place, demonstrating a greater use of appropriate and essential drugs. The paper concludes that doctors and paramedical staff can successfully manage a theoretical drug budget, and that their involvement in this process leads to more rational prescribing within existing resource constraints. This has a consequence of benefiting patients, satisfying doctors and pleasing administrators.

PMID:
10427939
PMCID:
PMC2557692
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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