The efficient management of essential medicines is a condition for the successful functioning of health systems at all levels. Despite spending about 20 per cent of their limited overall health budgets on medicines, many developing countries are unable to deliver health services for their people. Safe, effective, and affordable pharmaceutical products are fundamental to public health, yet at present at least a third of the world's population lacks access to even the most basic medicines. This chapter discusses the following topics: the Essential Medicines Concept and its practical implications; medicine supply and access to medicines; promoting the rational use of medicines; medicine regulation and ensuring the quality of medicines; and the role of government in the pharmaceutical sector.
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