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Volume 14 Supplement 1

Strengthening health systems: The Role of Drug Shops


This work was supported by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, World Health Organization. The Alliance is supported through both core funding as well as project specific designated funds. The full list of Alliance donors is available here: https://www. This work has also been supported by funding from USAID. Supplement Editors did not handle peer review on any article that they co-authored. The Supplement Editors declare that they have no other competing interests. The articles have undergone the journal's standard peer review process for supplements.

Private medicine retailers are often the first port of call when people need essential medicines and basic health care, especially in rural areas. However, these drug shops and retailers often operate outside the formal medical system in low- and middle-income countries, raising concerns about the quality of the products and services on offer. This poses a challenge for formal health care systems: should there be regulations and restrictions on these informal providers, or can they be engaged to improve the reach of health services? And if so, how?

A new special issue of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice showcases findings from seven research studies on drug shops across Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia. The studies were part of a multi-country implementation research programme developed by the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research and the Implementing Best Practices (IBP) Network – both at WHO – with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 

Edited by Zubin Cyrus Shroff, Abdul Ghaffar, Geetanjali Lamba and Zaheer Babar.

  1. The role of community drug shops in providing primary care has been recognized as important in Myanmar as in other countries. The contribution by private community drug shops to National Tuberculosis case noti...

    Authors: May Me Thet, Myat Noe Thiri Khaing, Su Su Zin, Sandar Oo, Ye Kyaw Aung and Si Thu Thein
    Citation: Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 2021 14(Suppl 1):89
  2. Indonesia is the second country with the highest number of malaria cases in Southeast Asia. Private health providers including community pharmacies often become the first point of care for the population seeki...

    Authors: Astri Ferdiana, Utsamani Cintyamena, Luthfi Azizatunnisa’, Edi Sunandar and Ari Probandari
    Citation: Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 2021 14(Suppl 1):90
  3. The low utilisation of modern contraceptives in many low- and middle-income countries remains a challenge. Patent medicine vendors (PMVs) that operate in the informal health sector, have the potential to addre...

    Authors: Mojisola Morenike Oluwasanu, Ayodeji Matthew Adebayo, Faizah Tosin Okunade, Olayinka Ajayi, Akinwumi Oyewole Akindele, John Stanback and Ademola Johnson Ajuwon
    Citation: Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 2021 14(Suppl 1):88
  4. Patent and proprietary medicine vendors (PPMVs) form part of the informal healthcare system and are the first point of call for 75% of Nigerians who live in rural and underserved areas where there is limited a...

    Authors: C. J. Uneke, I. Obeka, B. I. Uneke, A. Umeokonkwo, C. A. Nweze, K. I. Otubo and O. E. Uguru
    Citation: Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 2021 14(Suppl 1):92
  5. The Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) piloted the implementation of Guidelines on Operating Health Shops in Zambia in 2016, with a view to making basic medicines more accessible to communities. The...

    Authors: Joseph M. Zulu, Doreen Sitali, Zubin Cyrus Shroff, Geetanjali Lamba, George Sichone, Charles Michelo, Chileshe H. Mpandamabula, Wesely Mwambazi, Cecilia Mwenda and Malizgani P. Chavula
    Citation: Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 2021 14(Suppl 1):87
  6. The National Drug Policy in Bangladesh prohibits the sale and distribution of antibiotics without prescription from a registered physician. Compliance with this policy is poor; prescribing antibiotics by unqua...

    Authors: Fosiul Alam Nizame, Dewan Muhammad Shoaib, Emily K. Rousham, Salma Akter, Mohammad Aminul Islam, Afsana Alamgir Khan, Mahbubur Rahman and Leanne Unicomb
    Citation: Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 2021 14(Suppl 1):85
  7. 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 ...

    Authors: Geetanjali Lamba, Zubin Cyrus Shroff, Zaheer-Ud-Din Babar and Abdul Ghaffar
    Citation: Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice 2021 14(Suppl 1):94

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