Access to and quality use of noncommunicable diseases medicines in Nepal

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Noncommunicable diseases are a major healthcare problem in Nepal and their burden is increasingevery year. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) bring additional challenges to the Nepalese healthcaresystem which is already experiencing infrastructure shortages, poor service delivery, inadequate essential medicines coverage and shortages of healthcare workers. The Nepal government provides a limited number of free essential medicines through the free essential healthcare services program. This consists of a basic healthcare package provided through primary healthcare (PHC) facilities and district hospitals. Though around 40 essential medicines are provided without charge, studies have reported problems with access especially in all rural areas. There is a need to improve access to, coverage and quality use of medicines. The government has decided to provide some free medicines for NCDs alongside free essential medicines to be distributed via current healthcare structures. Though well intended, this decision will put extra strain on the essential medicines program. It should be supplemented by a comprehensive NCDs policy that takes account of the issues of sustainability and quality use of medicines. Complex cases of NCDs will be managed by tertiary hospitals but most of the cases of NCDs especially for rural people and the poor will end up in secondary level public hospitals (district and zonal hospitals). Therefore, the government needs to strengthen these public hospitals. Meanwhile, given the severity of the NCDs problem in Nepal, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) should liaise with nongovernmental and missionary hospitals especially in rural areas to run NCDs management services. The Ministry should encourage these hospitals to run hospital pharmacies to improve people’s access to and quality use of NCDs medicines. At the primary healthcare level, the Ministry could run NCDs prevention and control programs but existing PHC workers need training to perform proper dispensing of NCDs medicines. PHC facilities need a medical record system so that they can address the needs of NCDs patients requiring long term medication supply via a proximate PHC facility




Bhuvan, K. C., Heydon, S., & Norris, P. (2015). Access to and quality use of noncommunicable diseases medicines in Nepal. Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, 8(1), 1–4.

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