Many countries are reforming their health systems working toward universal health coverage (UHC). These reforms can be harnessed to increase equity in medicines access, affordability, and appropriate use of medicines. However, they also have the potential to decrease the effectiveness of prescribing and dispensing, increase unnecessary use of medicines, and derail systems from a path toward sustainable universal coverage. To guide health system development with respect to pharmaceuticals, decision makers need to have a conceptual understanding of medicines in health systems; operational staff need detailed, in-depth understanding of key medicines issues and of the policy and management options to address them; system planners and managers need access to data and tools to assess medicines situations and to monitor impacts of changes. Because different actors in the pharmaceutical sector may have competing objectives, all actors must understand the perspectives of others to work toward effective policies that facilitate achieving the goals of universal coverage: equitable and improved population health, financial risk protection of households, and citizen satisfaction with sustainable health systems.
Objectives: The goal of the Medicines in Health Systems course is to strengthen the capacity of practitioners working toward universal health coverage in low- and middle-income country health systems to design, implement, and monitor evidence-informed pharmaceutical policy and management strategies. Specifically, after completing the course, participants will be able to:
• Explain the different roles medicines play in health systems, and the roles and responsibilities of different system actors with respect to medicines in systems.
• Illustrate the competing objectives that system stakeholders face when striving toward greater availability of and more equitable access to high quality medicines, at affordable costs for households and the system, and with appropriate use to achieve target health outcomes.
• Assess the potential of different medicines policy and management approaches to balance these competing objectives, and identify the facilitators of and barriers to success of specific strategies, in a given context
• Lay out strategies for monitoring desired and potential unintended outcomes of specific medicines policy and management strategies in a given setting.