Staff Writer l Palladium - May 06 2021
Palladium and Supply Chain Partners Aim to Advance Pharmaceutical Services and Systems

Credit: Alexandra Stanescue/HP+

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 2 billion people around the world lack access to basic medicines. Pharmaceutical supply chains, the complex global networks through which prescription medications are manufactured and made available to patients, are only one piece of solving the puzzle. In many countries, the challenge goes beyond making these products available.

Sustainable access can only be achieved when medicines and other health commodities are provided through services that are designed with patients in mind. In other words, patients must find services to be of good quality, acceptable, affordable, and convenient.

To address these issues and potential solutions, Palladium’s Vice President, Health, Suneeta Sharma participated in a webinar hosted by the Global Health Supply Chain Summit. Palladium collaborated with the Summit, U.S. Pharmacopeia, and PICMA to hold the webinar, From Rhetoric to Reality: Putting Patients at the Heart of Pharmaceutical Services and Systems, on 29 April.

Sharma joined a panel of public and private sector experts from across the pharmaceutical management sector to discuss advancing patient-centred pharmaceutical services in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Sharma spoke about financing issues, noting that uncertainty of financing, and/or reliance on external support, to procure health commodities and essential medicines is a critical problem in LMICs. It impairs access to and provision of healthcare.

“This problem is further amplified by insufficient coverage of essential medicines and commodities where out-of-pocket payments for pharmaceuticals remain a challenge for individuals and families,” says Sharma. According to the World Health Organization, up to 90% of the population in LMICs purchases medicines through out-of-pocket payments. Medicines account for 20 to 60% of health spending in such countries.

“Given the pressures on government budgets, insufficient financing remains a significant challenge to ensuring access to health commodities,” Sharma adds.

Sharma poses the rhetorical question of how countries can ensure the uninterrupted supply of essential medicines. The answer lies in a discussion of improving efficiencies, mobilizing new resources of financing, and implementing a financing or resource allocation strategy that emphasizes access, equity, and quality.

Additional panellists from ReAct Africa, U.S. Pharmacopeia, the African Collaborating Centre for Pharmacovigilance, and the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network address antimicrobial resistance, regulatory systems strengthening, drug safety, and pharmaceutical practices.

When pharmaceutical systems and services—from policies and regulations to distribution and dispensing practices—are centred around and responsive to patient needs, they can work better to achieve improved health outcomes and address critical challenges such as antimicrobial resistance.

Ultimately, patient-centred approaches help build trust in health systems, encourage appropriate use of medicines, and make pharmaceutical services more responsive and effective.

Watch the recording of the From Rhetoric to Reality webinar on YouTube. Palladium’s Global Health Supply Chain webinar series is also online. Learn more about Palladium’s experience in supply chain management and contact for more information.