Poor infrastructure and a lack of funds greatly impede access to life-saving medicines at DRC health facilities. Without these medicines, infants and young children die of acute respiratory infection, pregnant women die during childbirth, and families cannot control their fertility. Continuously providing basic medicines, therefore, is an extremely important part of any primary health care program.
Unfortunately, at the start of ASSP, stock-outs of essential medicines were frequent at nearly all sites. A variety of factors contributed to the poor state of pharmaceutical management in the DRC: Healthcare workers needed training in stock management, transportation and communication were challenging, and decentralized drug warehousing was lacking.
Ensuring adequate supplies to medicines is a core component of ASSP’s mandate. It is particularly important for the project’s sustainable community financing strategies. Clients expect to pay a single reduced fee for services and prescriptions. If they don’t receive the medicines when they pay, they may feel ‘cheated’ that they did not receive what is mandated by their user fee and they may also lack the means to find the medicine elsewhere. This can create a barrier to accessing care in the present and future.