Advancing the Adoption of the DRC’s Essential Medicines List

In a three-day workshop jointly sponsored by the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded SIAPS and the World Health Organization (WHO), stakeholders adopted the essential medicines list (EML) for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The stakeholder consultation was carried out with the support of the DRC’s Ministry of Public Health and Pharmaceutical Directorate.

Every other year, WHO updates the list of essential medicines, which is used globally as a model for countries’ own EML. The list contains approximately 350 essential medicines for both adults and children, including medicines used for malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, chronic diseases and 13 life-saving medicines for mothers and children.

A committee of experts—doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and academics in the medical field—was formed preceding the meeting to review the WHO list and its methodology, as well as standard treatment guidelines and provincial EMLs. These experts formed the core group at the roundtable and made the recommendation to the DRC’s Ministry of Public Health to adopt the EML.

Speaking on behalf of USAID/SIAPS, Mr. Ruphin Mulongo, co-Director of SIAPS, made note that the current EML will contribute to improve the quality of health care services, ensuring availability of generic essential medicines and medical commodities for the Congolese people.

Dr. Sambu, representing the General Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, reminded participants that the availability of quality essential medicines was identified in the DRC’s National Health Plan as a key issue for the health system. The continuous improvement of this process not only provides better primary health care services for the people of the DRC but allows for a more efficient and affordable selection, procurement and use of quality medicines.

With funding from USAID, the SIAPS Program provides technical assistance to 13 countries to help develop, revise, disseminate, and/or provide orientation and training on EMLs. Promoting the essential medicines concept is part of USAID/SIAPS systems-strengthening approach to improving health outcomes worldwide.