Project Lead(s): Pradeep Panda
An estimated 41% of households in low-income countries use their entire healthcare budget on medicines and purchasing these forms the largest part of their household out-of-pocket expenses.
The objective of the project was to improve access to medications to rural tribal populations in remote areas of India by using trained village volunteers to explain dosages, ensure quality monitoring of the prescriptions and create a sustainable business model using the Management Information System (MIS).
Micro Insurance Academy (MIA) created a local health ecosystem by linking primary healthcare, a low-cost pharmacy and a viable health-financing mechanism (CBHI) in the Madanpur Rampur block of Kalahandi District, Odisha, India.
The goal of this project was to link village volunteers to the local community pharmacy, in order to increase access to medicines for local populations in the region.
Previously, if the target population visited the pharmacy, they had to pay for local travel and incur a loss in income, due to working time lost. Training village volunteers to deliver medicines was expected to lead to a reduction in indirect costs in accessing over-the-counter medicines.
The village volunteers do not charge a fee for delivering these medicines.
MIA also implemented MIS to monitor the sales and prescriptions for the pharmacy.
With the help of MIA’s implementing partner, Mahashakti Foundation, they instituted a Fair Price Pharmacy and made it operational. Medicines were purchased in bulk at a discount from nearby towns and were then sold to the rural households, also at a discount.
The project recruited an MIS officer and six volunteers, who conducted baseline- and post-study surveys, and trained volunteers on how to read the prescriptions, assess types of medicines, etc.
The study showed it is feasible to implement a low-cost community pharmacy that can enhance people’s access to medicine in rural and disadvantaged communities in India.
The village volunteers reached 7,445 households (27,310 people) in all the 30 villages in Madanpur Rampur.
A total of 5,293 households (71.1%) and 5,650 people (20.6%) got direct benefits and accessed medicines at a discounted rate through village volunteers.
Survey data suggested that people were happy with the services provided by the village volunteers and that access to medicine had improved significantly.
For instance, there has been a 50% increase in the use of prescription-based medicines from baseline, as well as improvement in the use of medicine without delay, the affordability of medicine and compliance with using the full course of prescribed medicine.
An application for scale-up funding of the project is planned and results of the trial have been presented.