A way forward to better manage medicines and avoid wastage

Active TB drug safety monitoring and management will be used as an entry point to strengthen Papua New Guinea’s pharmacovigilance system. According to the WHO, this system can be strengthened by establishing Medicines and Therapeutics Committees (MTCs) in public hospitals, through programmes such as TB as an entry point.

The MTCs primary function is to improve the overall management of medicines in hospitals, ensuring rational use of medicines and medical supplies and reducing wastage, and improving timely detection, evaluation, reporting and management of Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR).

WHO Country Representative to PNG, Dr Luo Dapeng, says: “It is known that inappropriate practices in the management and use of medicines and medical consumables seriously undermine the quality of patient care.” He said MTCs and ADR Subcommittees can significantly improve the situation. “If these committees are organized, capacitated and made fully functional, they can reduce costs of medicines and health care, and help in timely identification and appropriate management of adverse drug reactions,” says Dr Luo.

WHO is supporting PNG’s National Department of Health (NDoH) run a series of workshops aimed at establishing MTCs in public hospitals. These trainings target key hospital managers and staff in building capacity to implement appropriate medicines policies and interventions and to establish drug safety monitoring and management mechanisms.

WHO assisted in the conceptualization, development and standardization of training modules and tools that are cascaded through four provincial and four regional trainings. Trainings have been completed for Gerehu, Daru and Kerema General Hospitals as well as hospitals in the Southern and Momase regions. These workshops are a collaboration between NDoH, FHI360 and WHO’s TB and Health Sector Development teams. Workshops are also planned to cover hospitals in the Highlands and New Guinea Islands regions.

“The health system should be strengthened and sustained using every available opportunity such as through disease programs in order to inspire collective action for best health outcomes and excellent returns on investments”, said Dr Luo.

Dr Luo says the use of aDSM as a catalyst in establishing MTCs and ADR subcommittees is a good example of integrated use of resources and harnessing partnership for sustainable health system strengthening.

While TB programme is being used as a catalyst, other programme areas such as HIV, Malaria, Immunization and others may use this system in the future.