During the 1990's a group of experts founded a newsletter called Practical Pharmacy. It was created to help health workers in developing countries to manage medicines supply. Many of these workers found themselves responsible for managing medicines even though they had little training or information in this field.
Written in simple language, Practical Pharmacy covered subjects including medicine storage, dispensing, rational prescribing and the use of medicines in pregnancy.
Between 1996 and 2000, fifteen issues of Practical Pharmacy were produced, and circulation reached over 4000. An evaluation confirmed the need for this type of information. Unfortunately it was not possible to continue publishing the newsletter. In 2006, a group of organizations including the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network (EPN), the Mission for Essential Drugs and Supplies (MEDS), the Sustainable Healthcare Foundation (SHEF) and HAI Africa, partnered together to revive the quarterly newsletter.
Six years have passed since the last edition of Practical Pharmacy. However, the needs it addressed still exist. Many health workers in developing countries still have no specific training in pharmacy and have no information to help them in their day to day work. They need tools and resources to help them manage medicine supplies, to prescribe medicines appropriately and to help their patients understand how to use medicines appropriately.
More than half of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, and half of all patients fail to take them correctly. The over-use, under-use or misuse of medicines results in wastage of scarce resources, especially in developing countries. In addition, using medicines improperly increases the risk of people falling sick and dying of illness, as well as resistance of disease-causing microbes to available treatments.
Since the newsletter was first published, the Information Age has taken off, even in the developing world. For this reason, as well as for reasons of cost, the newsletter will primarily be distributed electronically, via the Internet (email and the World Wide Web). Practical Pharmacy newsletter will continue to be available for free.
As with the original editions, readers are free to circulate the newsletter in whatever way they see best - by email or in hard copy. Users may also include the information in their own publications and training material. We would only request that they reference Practical Pharmacy as the source of their information and tell us when they are using the information in this way.
The first editions of Practical Pharmacy laid a solid foundation, beginning from basic essential skills for medicine management in a health centre setting (storing medicines, stock control, etc) and moving on to patient-centred topics (rational prescribing, medicines in pregnancy and the elderly, etc).
This new issue is taking up from where the last issue stopped: on the topic of malaria.
The older issues of the newsletter currently being updated and will be reissued soon on this web site so that the vital information they contain will not be lost.
Over the next few months, the new issues of the newsletter will cover the following topics:
- HIV and AIDS: HIV treatment, adherence to ARVs
- Rational use of medicines in the community
- Infection control