Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems

Speeches Shim

A pharmacist filling a prescription in Kigali, Rwanda.
A pharmacist filling a prescription in Kigali, Rwanda.
Photo Credit, ABIMANA RWANDENZI EUGENE MTaPS Rwanda

Lives are saved when people can access quality-assured, affordable, effective, and safe medical products and related services. Medicines treat tuberculosis and stop the spread of HIV; vaccines prevent the spread of polio and other infectious diseases; diagnostic testing detects disease and reduces inappropriate use of antibiotics; insecticide-treated bed nets protect against malaria; personal protective equipment shields health workers; and condoms limit the spread of HIV. The health needs of a population cannot be met without these medical products, and the pharmaceutical systems that regulate, supply, and promote their appropriate use.

Strong pharmaceutical systems are necessary for ensuring high-quality health care, particularly for the most-vulnerable populations. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that half of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed, sold, or taken inappropriately, and many are of poor quality, all of which accelerates the spread of drug resistance.

Pharmaceutical systems are particularly vulnerable to corruption because of the high value of medical products. All parts of the supply chain can be compromised by weak pharmaceutical systems, including selection of essential medicines; calculation of quantities to purchase; ability of hospitals and pharmacies to purchase medicines; and warehousing and distribution.

USAID is helping countries around the world strengthen their pharmaceutical systems to protect people from these risks and improve health outcomes. We work with governments and private sector organizations to strengthen their regulatory system and pharmacy practices, to ensure sustainable access to and appropriate use of safe, effective, affordable, quality-assured medical products. We also work with countries to examine systems for supply chain management, pharmacovigilance, product quality assurance, patient safety, workforce development and sustainability, and financing of these systems, including medicines benefits coverage under UHC.

USAID examines the full system required for the delivery and use of safe, effective, and affordable medical products to patients who need them, including by ensuring a seamless process from the selection of medicines to their use. We do all of this with the objective of protecting people and communities, and optimizing health outcomes.

Flowchart depicting the USAID Pharmaceutical System Strengthening Approach.

For more information and resources on our work to strengthen pharmaceutical systems please visit:

USAID’s Medicines, Technologies, and Pharmaceutical Services program

USAID’s Promoting the Quality of Medicines Plus program

USAID’s Global Health Supply Chain program

USAID’s System for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (2011-2018)

Tool to Measure Strength of Pharmaceutical Systems

USAID’s Promoting the Quality of Medicines program (2009-2020)

Last updated: November 23, 2021

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