Drug shops for stronger health systems: learning from initiatives in six LMICs

Geetanjali Lamba, Zubin Shroff, Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar, Abdul Ghaffar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Background
Private sector retail pharmacies, or drug shops, play an important role in access to essential medicines and services in low-and-middle-income countries. Recognising that they have the potential to contribute to health system strengthening efforts, many recent initiatives to engage with drug shops have been launched. These include initiatives that focus on changes in policy, regulation and training. However, the specific factors that influence their success remain poorly understood. Seven country case studies supported under the Alliance’s programme of work ‘Strengthening health systems: the role of drug shops’ help to explore this issue.

Methods
Country case studies from the above programme of research from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia were used as the main sources of data for this paper. A modified version of Bigdeli et al.’s Access to Medicines framework was applied within a partially grounded approach to analyze each country case study and compare themes between countries.

Results
Many factors may help initiatives targeting drug shops successfully achieve their intended outcomes. At the micro level, these include community demand for drug shops and a positive relationship between drug shops and their clients. At the meso level, facilitators of initiative success include training and positive attitudes from drug shops towards the initiative. Barriers include client pressure, procurement challenges and financial and administrative costs associated with initiatives. At the macro level, collaboration between stakeholders, high-level buy in and supervision, monitoring and regulation may influence initiative success. These factors are inter-dependent and interact with each other in a dynamic way.

Conclusions
Using a framework approach, these country case studies demonstrate common factors that influence how drug shops can strengthen health systems. These learnings can help inform the design and implementation of successful strategies to engage drug shops towards sustainable systems change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number94
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
Volume14
Issue numberS1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2021

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