Essential medicines can save lives, reduce sufferings and improve health. But to do so, they must be available and affordable, of assured quality and properly used both by providers and patients. They should be available at all times, in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosages and at a price that individuals and systems can afford. Thus, they should be selected based on real needs, evidence of efficacy and safety and cost effectiveness. Equity in access to essential medicines is part of human right.
In many countries and areas in the Western Pacific, lack of access to essential medicines, of assured quality, is still frequently encountered. Inappropriate use of medicines is often practised in health facilities and communities, wasting limited resources and jeopardising the quality of health care.