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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


GUERRA JR, Augusto Afonso et al. Availability of essential drugs in two regions of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2004, vol.15, n.3, pp.168-175. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the availability of essential drugs in municipalities with a human development index < 0.699. METHODS: We surveyed 69 institutions, including municipal pharmacies, public clinics, private and philanthropic health units, and commercial pharmacies, in 19 municipalities of the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. The municipalities were chosen according to the following selection criteria: (1) a human development index (HDI) < 0.699 (the HDI for the entire state of Minas Gerais in 1991) in the microregion where the municipality was located; (2) the municipality had to be the seat of government for the microregion where it was located; (3) there had to be at least two eligible institutions (belonging to the public, private, or philanthropic sectors) in full functioning in the municipality during the survey period. Health professionals who were directly responsible for stock control and drug dispensation at the institutions surveyed were interviewed. Institutional documents and records were also reviewed. A list of 21 tracer essential drugs, which were selected among the drugs most widely employed in the State of Minas Gerais’ Basic Pharmacy Program, was used to measure availability. The availability of each tracer drug was calculated at the time of the site visit and for the 12-month period immediately before the survey. In addition, the availability of tracer drugs was calculated for each type of institution surveyed. RESULTS: The availability of essential drugs in municipal pharmacies was 52.0%; in public health clinics, 46.9%; and in philanthropic and private health units, 41.0% and 38.1%, respectively. In commercial pharmacies, the availability of essential drugs reached 81.2%. CONCLUSION: The availability of essential drugs in public facilities is low and varies widely, with the result that persons who need such drugs the most are often those who lack access to them. Private pharmacies are the main source of essential drugs. The results of this study point to the need to seek increased awareness and implementation of the concept of essential drugs throughout the country.

Keywords : Acesso aos serviços de saúde; eqüidade; medicamentos essenciais; política de saúde.

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