Where There Are no Pharmacists (TWN 2010)
Beverley Snell, Sarah Andersson, Kumariah Balasubramaniam
Health Action International Asia-Pacific

WTANPscoversmallSeveral categories of health worker, whose activities involve managing and handling medicines, find themselves in front line healthcare either without any pharmacy training or, if they have, no opportunity at all for continuing their pharmacy education and professional development. Assessments in the field have led to repeated findings that there are severe deficiencies in the way medicines are managed and handled in the long chain from medical stores to rural health clinics and finally, to patients.
A series of simple steps can be taken to strengthen this long chain. Where There Are no Pharmacists is an innovative handbook that will help health workers to do exactly that. It has been commissioned by HAI and TWN, written by world experts at a subsidised cost for health workers in resource poor settings. In easy-to-read language and with illustrations, this step-by-step guide demonstrates what is needed and what can be done by staff in small rural and urban health facilities to improve medicines delivery. A pharmacology and pharmacy glossary provides explanations for technical terms that staff will come across when learning, teaching and referencing.
Most importantly, Where There Are No Pharmacists provides material for learner-centred education. In their continuous application of what is explained in this book, learners actively and gradually become architects of their own learning. The goals of the authors of Where There Are No Pharmacists are to see an increase of health workers who:
a. Responsibly maintain a reliable supply of good quality, essential medicines;
b. Manage medicines efficiently by carrying out activities in the best professional way, and
c. Accurately dispense them to the community with relevant information;
d. Continue to remain competent in their professional role as managers of medicines.
Knowledge associated with medicines and healthcare should not be a guarded secret among health professionals but freely shared by everyone. There is an increasing need to demystify medicines. People with little or no formal education can be trusted to grasp what is communicated if the communication tool is comprehensive. Where There Are No Pharmacists is such a tool.

This book is about managing medicines. It explains in easy language how to order, store, prepare, dispense and use medicines safely and effectively. It provides information to help communities benefit from the use of medicines. It does not provide clinical advice but emphasises the need to adhere to national standard treatment guidelines or in their absence, to appropriate texts and guidelines. The aim is to empower whole communities through empowering health workers.
$ US 22.00 ISBN: 978-967-5412-17-2 (TWN)
Available from Third World Network

A users guide for Where There Are no Pharmacists has been prepared by Fiji. You can download it here.
Exercises to assess readers’ understanding of the book can be downloaded here and the answers are here.

Where There are No Pharmacists: Available in French
Là où il n’y a pas de pharmaciens, the French translation of Where There are no Pharmacists is available from TWN. The text was translated by Elisabeth Goffin and Anke Meiburg of Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network (EPN), with the support of the German Institute for Medical Missions (DIFAM).  The book was prepared for publication by Beverley Snell (HAIAP) and Lean Ka-Min (TWN)
Price                                     Postage
Malaysia                            RM25.00         RM2.00
Third World countries      US$11.00        US$5.00 (air);    US$3.00 (sea)
Other foreign countries   US$15.00        US$7.00 (air);    US$3.00 (sea)
(For orders of more than 3 copies, please write for reduced postal rate)
How to Order the Book   Visit our TWN Online Bookshop at: or contact Third World Network at 131 Jalan Macalister, 10400 Penang, Malaysia.
Tel: 604-2266159
Fax: 604-2264505
Email: Third World Network for further information:  twnkl(at)

‘The Politics of Essential Drugs – The Making of a Successful Health Strategy: Lessons from Bangladesh’, published by Zed Press, London, 1995
Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury is widely regarded as the father of Bangladesh’s National  Drug Policy which pioneered a way through the maze of modern, Western-manufactured drugs and developed a more affordable health strategy based in part on the local manufacture of a relatively small number of essential generic drugs. With the World Health  Organization supporting the same approach, the Bangladesh experiment became influential in shaping other countries’ health policies.
His book The Politics of Essential Drugs – The Making of a Successful Health Strategy: Lessons from Bangladesh, published by Zed Press, London, 1995, tells the story of this initiative, including its achievements and limitations. He sets it in a global context, discusses the pressures mobilized (both now and at the time) by the pharmaceutical corporations and others to reverse the new strategy, and reflects on the relevance of Bangladesh’s experience for other countries.


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Fast, Furious and Flexible: The story of Health Action International (HAI) with a focus on Health Action International Asia Pacific (HAIAP) 1981-2006

HAI 2006
To download the pdf click here



Rational Use of Antibiotics in China
The 2nd National Workshop on Rational Use of Antibiotics in China was held in Beijing from 28-30th November 2005. The workshop was organised by Professor Yong Hong Yang (Beijing Children’s Hospital), Dr Ken Harvey (Latrobe University, Australia) and Dr K Balasubramaniam (Health Action International Asia-Pacific). The meeting was sponsored by Health Action International Asia-Pacific and supported by the China Health Program of La Trobe University, the Australian National Prescribing Service and Medicare Australia.
To download the pdf click here

Understanding and responding to pharmaceutical promotion: A practical guide.
Pharmaceutical promotion influences how doctors and pharmacists choose to prescribe and dispense medicines. These decisions may, however, lead to sub-optimal treatment choices that damage public health and escalate health care costs.
Although the influence of pharmaceutical promotion starts early in medical and pharmacy students’ training, these students receive little to no instruction on how to assess promotion.
To address this need, HAI and WHO published a manual that schools of medicine and pharmacy can use to train students how to recognise and respond to pharmaceutical promotion before they start prescribing and dispensing medicines. This educational tool enables students to critically analyse pharmaceutical promotion and access higher-quality, unbiased and independent information about medicines.
The manual is available free-of-charge and can be downloaded in English,  French,  Spanish  or Russian. Hard copies of the manual (in English or Spanish) may also be requested by emailing manual(at) or kaur_shila(at)  Please note that shipping charges may apply.
Have you taught the manual, or used it as a student? Share your experience with us—and help us improve the next edition—by completing and submitting an evaluation form (English,  French  or Español).

Politics of Medicines Encyclopaedia
Health Action International (HAI) presents a first-of-its-kind, free, online encyclopaedia of the politics of medicines from the perspective of HAI’s expert network of consumer groups, non-governmental organisations, health care professionals, academics, media and individual partners in more than 70 countries. This project will become a comprehensive, easy-to-use and accessible resource for a broad audience that is engaged, or interested, in health advocacy, activism, civil society capacity building, or public health outcomes of the medicines market.