Essential medicines and health products

Medicines Supply

WHO work on supply systems

WHO is collaborating with other partners to develop solutions for shortages and stock outs of medicines. The key issues were examined in a technical consultation with stakeholders in December 2015. Areas for further work and actions were identified. Read the report of the consultation here:


Efficient medicines supply systems are integrally linked to strong health care systems. Adequate human resources, sustainable financing, comprehensive information systems, and coordinated healthcare partners and institutions are key components to ensure uninterrupted availability and accessibility of essential medicines. Long term supply strategies are absent in many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

WHO has developed tools to assess the medicines supply management systems in countries in a drive to identify strengths of the system on which to build, and weaknesses to be addressed to improve the system. WHO provides guidance and advocates for secure and efficient medicines supply systems to improve availability of and access to essential medicines.

The Medicines Management Cycle illustrates the main steps of effective management of medicines supply: selection, quantification and forecasting, procurement, storage, and distribution. Improved access to medicines can occur when rational selection, affordable prices, reliable health and supply systems, and sustainable financing are present.

A reliable health supply system will: 1) Integrate supply management into health system development; 2) Develop an efficient mix of public-private partnerships; 3)Maintain medicines quality in distribution channels; and 4) Ultimately increase access to essential drugs