Rational use of medicines requires that “patients receive medications appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their own individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and at the lowest cost to them and their community". WHO recommends twelve key interventions to promote rational use which include the formulation and use of evidence-based standard treatment guidelines for training, supervision and supporting critical decision-making about medicines as well as the development and use of national essential medicines lists.
On 18th January 2018, the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children officially launched the 2017 editions of the Standard Treatment Guidelines (STG) and the National Essential Medicines List for Tanzania (NEMLIT).
The occasion was officiated by Honourable Ummy Mwalimu, Member of Parliament and Minister of Health Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. In attendance included, senior management and staff of the Ministry, officials from other ministries, representatives of Government Agencies eg Tanzania Food and Drug Authority, Government Chemist Laboratory Agency, National Health Insurance Fund; Development Partners, academic institutions, and members of the media.
Dr. Mohammed Bakari Kambi, the Chief Medical Officer, in his welcoming remarks informed all that the review process of the documents was participatory and done scientifically as required using Standard Operating Procedures.
Dr. Gavin Surgey from PRICELESS/South Africa, appreciated the funding from PATH and the hard work of the Tanzanian teams in the development of the documents.
In his remarks, Dr. Matthieu Kamwa, the WHO Representative (a.i.) congratulated the Tanzanian Government for consistently striving to promote rational use of medicines by all the health workers in health care settings. He however cautioned that for the documents to be appropriately used there is need to strengthen the medicines and therapeutics committees in districts and hospitals so as to improve and sustain the rational use of medicines and other health products.
In her address, which was the first for the year, the Honourable Minister informed participants that 2018 is the year for improving the provision of quality of health services. She emphasized that the availability of medicines is a human right. Therefore called for the Medical Store Department to procure medicines from the NEMLIT and advised health workers to prescribe according to the STG. She also called for the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government to ensure that all health care facilities have skilled staff. Finally, she appealed for health workers to follow the antibiotics categories of ACCESS, WATCH and RESERVE as indicated into the STG to curb antimicrobial resistance nationwide.