A recently published report by the East African Business Week (EABW) has revealed that more than USD 4 million has been injected into the Tanzania private sector pharmaceutical industry by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which also injected approximately SD 1.5 million into the Ugandan private sector pharmaceutical industry, in an attempt to create a sustainable private sector drug seller program in the two countries.
This announcement was made earlier this month in Kampala by the Information and Communications Director for the SEAM Program, Keith W. Johnson, who is responsible for the East African Drug Seller Initiative (EADSI)
“We started this initiative in Ruvuma Province South East of Tanzania as a means of improving access to medicines in the rural areas under what is now known as Duka la Dawa Baridi or full dose shops with funding from the Gates Foundation five years ago,” said Mr. Johnson in his announcement, “It has been a successful program and we are now spreading it to Uganda.”
Mr. Johnson went on to explain that the realization of this initiative was important to the region in part because, while exploring the Ruvuma Province in Tanzania, not a single pharmacy was found.
In addition to this, because this particular area is a three-day drive from Dar es Salaam, finding and obtaining the appropriate and necessary medication for the region’s population was difficult.
“With funding from the Gates Foundation, we did a feasibility study for best practices in extending essential services,” Mr. Johnson explained, “We have now accredited 100 drug shops of which 95% of the people in this area are dependent on drug shops.”
According to the EABW report, based on the success of the initiative in the Ruvuma Province, Global Fund and Danida also provided assistance in the upstart of the Accredited Drug Shops (ADS) project in eight other regions of Tanzania.
In addition, the EABW also including an explanation by the initiative’s Technical Advisor, Saul Kidde, indicating that The East African Drugs Seller Initiative project has also recently been extended to include Uganda in an effort to continue using increased involvement of the private sector as a means of providing the region with access to essential medicines, particularly in the most underserved areas.
“This ADS project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a three year grant in partnership with Management Sciences for Health,” explained Mr. Kidde in the EABW report, “having been tested as a successful initiative in Tanzania under the Accredited Drug Dispensing Outlet (ADDO) in Tanzania.”