6.4.1 Why pharmaceutical supplies must be managed carefully
Drugs, vaccines and other pharmaceutical supplies are a special resource that you need to manage carefully for many reasons, including the following:
- Some drugs (e.g. antibiotics) are expensive resources and must be used wisely.
- All pharmaceutical supplies can expire (i.e. pass their ‘use-by’ date), so ordering and stock control is essential to avoid wastage.
- Some drugs (e.g. oxytocin) and all vaccines need to be stored at the right temperature, otherwise they will become useless.
Most vaccines must be stored at between 2ºC to 8ºC.
- Furthermore, most drugs are much-wanted items and you will have to ensure that good security is in place at all times to avoid theft of your supplies.
Your pharmaceutical supplies at the Health Post should be properly managed to ensure that they are available when and where needed. You should calculate the remaining balance and check against what remains on your shelf before requesting more drugs or other pharmaceutical supplies.
You must also consult and get support from the nearby Health Centre or woreda Health Office for safe ways of discarding expired drugs, or drugs that have been dispensed to patients but remained unused.
Can you think of some common reasons for wastage of pharmaceutical supplies?
You may have identified some of the following reasons that you think could be investigated and perhaps improved:
- Improper selection of drugs and other supplies, i.e. the wrong items are ordered.
- Supplies are ordered at the wrong time or in the wrong amounts.
- Damage, loss or theft of supplies occurs at any stage during transportation from the manufacturer to the Health Post.
- Spoilage of supplies by wrong storage practices, e.g. failing to refrigerate drugs and vaccines that must be kept cold.
- Poor explanation to the patient during dispensing, so the patient takes the drug or supplement incorrectly.