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      Access to medicines from a health system perspective

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          Abstract

          Most health system strengthening interventions ignore interconnections between systems components. In particular, complex relationships between medicines and health financing, human resources, health information and service delivery are not given sufficient consideration. As a consequence, populations' access to medicines (ATM) is addressed mainly through fragmented, often vertical approaches usually focusing on supply, unrelated to the wider issue of access to health services and interventions. The objective of this article is to embed ATM in a health system perspective. For this purpose, we perform a structured literature review: we examine existing ATM frameworks, review determinants of ATM and define at which level of the health system they are likely to occur; we analyse to which extent existing ATM frameworks take into account access constraints at different levels of the health system. Our findings suggest that ATM barriers are complex and interconnected as they occur at multiple levels of the health system. Existing ATM frameworks only partially address the full range of ATM barriers. We propose three essential paradigm shifts that take into account complex and dynamic relationships between medicines and other components of the health system. A holistic view of demand-side constraints in tandem with consideration of multiple and dynamic relationships between medicines and other health system resources should be applied; it should be recognized that determinants of ATM are rooted in national, regional and international contexts. These are schematized in a new framework proposing a health system perspective on ATM.

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          Achieving child survival goals: potential contribution of community health workers.

          There is renewed interest in the potential contribution of community health workers to child survival. Community health workers can undertake various tasks, including case management of childhood illnesses (eg, pneumonia, malaria, and neonatal sepsis) and delivery of preventive interventions such as immunisation, promotion of healthy behaviour, and mobilisation of communities. Several trials show substantial reductions in child mortality, particularly through case management of ill children by these types of community interventions. However, community health workers are not a panacea for weak health systems and will need focussed tasks, adequate remuneration, training, supervision, and the active involvement of the communities in which they work. The introduction of large-scale programmes for community health workers requires evaluation to document the impact on child survival and cost effectiveness and to elucidate factors associated with success and sustainability.
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            Access to and utilisation of health services for the poor in Uganda: a systematic review of available evidence.

            Inequalities in the burden of disease and access to health care is a prominent concern in Uganda and other sub-Saharan African countries. This is a systematic review of socio-economic differences in morbidity and access to health care in Uganda. It includes published studies from electronic databases and official reports from surveys done by government, bilateral and multilateral agencies and universities. The outcome measures studied were: the distribution of HIV/AIDS; maternal and child morbidity; and access to and utilisation of health services for people belonging to different socio-economic and vulnerability groups. Forty-eight of 678 identified studies met our inclusion criteria. Results indicate that the poor and vulnerable experience a greater burden of disease but have lower access to health services than the less poor. Barriers to access arise from both the service providers and the consumers. Distance to service points, perceived quality of care and availability of drugs are key determinants of utilisation. Other barriers are perceived lack of skilled staff in public facilities, late referrals, health worker attitude, costs of care and lack of knowledge. Longitudinal and controlled studies are needed to see if strategies to improve access to services reach the poor.
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              Primary health care: making Alma-Ata a reality.

              The principles agreed at Alma-Ata 30 years ago apply just as much now as they did then. "Health for all" by the year 2000 was not achieved, and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015 will not be met in most low-income countries without substantial acceleration of primary health care. Factors have included insufficient political prioritisation of health, structural adjustment policies, poor governance, population growth, inadequate health systems, and scarce research and assessment on primary health care. We propose the following priorities for revitalising primary health care. Health-service infrastructure, including human resources and essential drugs, needs strengthening, and user fees should be removed for primary health-care services to improve use. A continuum of care for maternal, newborn, and child health services, including family planning, is needed. Evidence-based, integrated packages of community and primary curative and preventive care should be adapted to country contexts, assessed, and scaled up. Community participation and community health workers linked to strengthened primary-care facilities and first-referral services are needed. Furthermore, intersectoral action linking health and development is necessary, including that for better water, sanitation, nutrition, food security, and HIV control. Chronic diseases, mental health, and child development should be addressed. Progress should be measured and accountability assured. We prioritise research questions and suggest actions and measures for stakeholders both locally and globally, which are required to revitalise primary health care.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Health Policy Plan
                Health Policy Plan
                heapol
                heapol
                Health Policy and Planning
                Oxford University Press
                0268-1080
                1460-2237
                October 2013
                22 November 2012
                22 November 2012
                : 28
                : 7
                : 692-704
                Affiliations
                1Alliance for Health Policy and System Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2Health Sector Support Programme, Luxembourg Development, Lao People's Democratic Republic, 3Division of Global Health (IHCAR) and Medical Management Centre (MMC), Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, 4Department of Essential Medicines and Health Products, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 5Université Libre de Bruxelles, School of Public Health, Centre de Recherche Politiques et Systèmes de Santé - Santé Internationale, Brussels, Belgium and 6Department of Public Health, Institute of Tropical Medicines, Antwerp, Belgium
                Author notes
                *Corresponding author. Alliance for Health Policy and System Research, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail: bigdelim@ 123456who.int
                Article
                czs108
                10.1093/heapol/czs108
                3794462
                23174879
                ae2292c8-0f97-43e3-bdd1-4de273bb21b7
                Published by Oxford University Press in association with The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine © The Author 2012; all rights reserved.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits non-commercial reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact journals.permissions@oup.com.

                History
                : 22 August 2012
                Page count
                Pages: 13
                Categories
                Original Articles

                Social policy & Welfare
                medicines,access barriers,health system,analytical framework
                Social policy & Welfare
                medicines, access barriers, health system, analytical framework

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