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South Med Rev. 2012 Jul;5(1):14-21. Epub 2012 Jul 23.

The Vanuatu medical supply system - documenting opportunities and challenges to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

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Discipline of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia.



Limited human resources are widely recognised as a barrier to achieve health-related Millennium Development Goals. Availability of medical supplies and suitably trained health personnel are crucial to ensuring a well-functioning medical supply system. The objective of this paper is to identify the factors which influence the availability of medical supplies within the health facilities of Vanuatu.


A qualitative triangulated strategy using semi-structured interviews, observational workplace surveys and semi-structured focus groups was developed. This research was approved by the Human Ethics Committee of the University of Canberra and was funded through a direct grant from the United Nations Population Fund Suva, Pacific sub regional office.


During two weeks of data collection, 21 interviews were conducted, observational workplace surveys were completed in 19 facilities and 22 personnel participated in three focus groups across three provinces. The interviewees had a wide range of primary professional groupings and were representative of the Vanuatu health workforce. A complex array of medical supply issues are described from within the three tiered structure of the medical supply system.


The results of this research have further informed our understanding of the competencies required by healthcare personnel to conduct medical supply management activities effectively in Pacific Island countries. As a result of this research, a platform is provided for the government of Vanuatu to engage development partners to work toward a sustainable medical supply system.


Essential medicines supply; Vanuatu; interview; medical supply; pharmacy; surveys

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