Access to medicines

Today, most diseases are treatable. However, millions of people die because life-saving drugs are not available in many regions - even today. And if drugs are available, people usually cannot afford them. Moreover, in many healthcare institutions there is a shortage of pharmaceutical and medical professionals. The DIFÄM Center for Pharmaceutical Development Cooperation therefore promotes a comprehensive supply of essential medicines and the strengthening of local pharmaceutical structures.

Supply of medicines

Supply of important medicines

Medications are indispensable in any health system. University hospitals or village clinics - no health care facility can function if essential drugs are not available. Already in the context of the primary health concept of Alma Ata the supply of drugs has played an important role, and it is also a key issue in the Millennium Development Goals of the UN. When we talk about Universal Health Coverage today, essential drugs are also on the agenda.

Over the past three decades, drug supply has improved: many people have access to effective drugs. But a lasting and comprehensive provision for all people is still far off. It is still difficult to provide peripheral health care facilities with drugs. The access rate for essential drugs in sub-Saharan Africa is still only around 50 percent.

To provide the necessary medications country-wide, to make the knowledge about their proper use available everywhere - that has priority today. The DIFÄM Center for Pharmaceutical Development Cooperation has made it its task to increase the availability of drugs in our partners’ health facilities and to train their staff in drug dosing, storage and quality testing. On the other hand, we help to ensure that these preparations and products are always available in the Christian central pharmacies - at a favorable price and in good quality.

WHO list of important medicines

The right choice of medication is important. Thousands of medicines are prescribed, purchased and consumed worldwide, although their efficacy is controversial, their side effects and costs are too high compared to alternative products, or their quality is rather poor. And this is happening not only in distant Africa or Asia – but also here in Germany.

As early as 1992, the World Health Organization developed the concept of essential drugs, which today include 360 ??medicines. This applies worldwide and also includes HIV and AIDS preparations, cytostatics and some modern antibiotics. But not all preparations are useful everywhere - a village clinic (without a doctor, without a laboratory) can easily manage with 10 to 15 drugs.

WHO and UNICEF go one step further: With how many medications can those five diseases be effectively treated that affect mothers during childbirth and that are responsible for most infant deaths? They counted 30 preparations and some medical supplies.

Quality assurance of medicines

The quality assurance of these drugs is important to us. In many African countries, medicines of inferior quality or entirely without the necessary active ingredients are in circulation.

For the quality assurance of drugs, we equip our project partners with mobile mini-labs and train them in their handling. In addition, we support a certified testing laboratory in Kenya, the establishment of similar laboratories in other countries and the inspection of suppliers.

With the 'Minilab Network' and its members from several countries, Difäm has obtained a lot of international recognition. It succeeded in revealing almost ten drug counterfeits by now. But great efforts are needed, for example, to raise the high costs for the confirmation tests.

Documentary film on counterfeit medicines


Ms. Christine Häfele-Abah
Ms. Christine Häfele-Abah Head of Pharmaceutical Projects & Procurement Mohlstraße 26 D-72074 Tübingen Tel. +49/7071 704 90 13