Selection of Essential Medicines
The essential medicines list (EML) informs the procurement of medicines and provides a basis for deciding which medicines to invest in. Many countries have an EML of which the procurement list is established from. Further selection is done by the procurement board or team to form a list of medicines that should be in the store’s price catalogue to limit what should be stock and always made available at the public health facilities.
Selection for procurement is important in rationalizing the scarce resources for vital products that must always be available at all level of health care. In a study carried out in Tanzania in 2007, only about 52% of surveyed facilities procured medicines within the EML. The main reasons for procuring out of the EML was that the list did not address local needs and that the listed products were not always available. It is therefore important to involve a wider net of cadres as much as possible in the selection of a list of products to be procured through the Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) committee so that they will use the list and medicines will not be wasted.
The vertical disease programme managers also select a list of products to be procured. This is usually done in collaboration with the partners who provide funding to the disease programmes. The programme managers maintain and update the lists of products to be procured for their various programs.