Gaps in the management and availability of essential medicines and health commodities, including vaccines, supplies, and equipment, have been a constant weakness for developing countries. These gaps have hampered the ability to access and distribute the pharmaceutical and medical supplies needed to treat infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Prevention of antimicrobial resistance and childhood illnesses like pneumonia and diarrhea are also becoming increasingly difficult.
Strengthening the rational use of and access to medicines within health systems can lead to self-sustaining pharmaceutical management systems that close gaps and provide quality medicines and commodities that save the lives of millions. This was the focus of the Rational Pharmaceutical Management (RPM) Plus Program which ended in 2007 and was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The follow on to RPM Plus - Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) Program - began in 2007 and builds on lessons learned from the RPM Plus Program by scaling up successful existing programs nationwide or adapting them for use in other countries. New areas have received special focus under SPS include good governance in the pharmaceutical sector, pharmaceutical care, pharmacovigilance, laboratory services, health financing, and innovative mechanisms to enhance access to medicines. SPS is also funded by USAID.