Measuring pharmaceutical markets in Africa

Routinely gathered information on the national importation and consumption of medicines can serve multiple agendas. It can support policy setting, improve drug safety, and drive national investment decisions in high priority health areas. At its most basic level, data repositories on pharmaceutical flows allow health officials to monitor the relationship between disease burden and national supply of critically needed medicines, as well as to keep a close check on the quality of those medicines.

Unlike in high-income countries, drug purchasing patterns and volumes are not readily available to government officials in most malaria-endemic countries. In addition, work undertaken in the past 5 years by WHO (Quality medicines for everyone) has pointed out the disturbing levels of inferior medicines in circulation in Sub-Saharan Africa. In six African countries surveyed by WHO prequalification, one third of all antimalarial medicines failed to meet international quality standards. 

The last 15 years have brought about major shifts in the development, manufacture, financing, and global supply of quality-assured ACTs and other medicines for the treatment of malaria. By investing in drug volume monitoring systems at the national level, governments and public health stakeholders will be able to track these medicines and to refine estimates of their real-time availability. They will also be able to monitor the displacement of inferior non-quality medicines as WHO-approved medicines become more widely adopted.

MMV is collaborating with partners to consolidate data regarding the flow of malaria medicines at national levels and to help health authorities routinely analyse such data, beginning with two country pilots in East and Southern Africa – Uganda and Zambia.

Access in Action

  • Country-level information is being collected in Zambia on the importation and local manufacturing of all pharmaceuticals, including value and volume. The routine data entry and analysis of this information will allow monthly market trends information to be sent to the Ministry of Health, MMV and IMS Health.
  • In June 2016, MMV concluded a three-year sub-project in collaboration with IMS, with support from Tess Development Advisors, that has enabled the Uganda National Drug Authority to complete the development of a system for monitoring pharmaceutical flows at a national level that is comparable to Zambia’s.


IMS Health, Government of Zambia, Ugandan NDA, Tess Development Advisors

Updated November 2016