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Local production of pharmaceuticals in Africa and access to essential medicines: ‘urban bias’ in access to imported medicines in Tanzania and its policy implications

Mujinja, PGM   Mackintosh, M   Justin-Temu, M   Wuyts, M

Globalization and Health   10 (12) 1–12

DOI: 10.1186/1744-8603-10-12

March 2014

This article contributes new analysis and findings to the debate concerning the scope for local pharmaceutical manufacturing in Africa to provide benefits to the population in terms of improved access to medicines. Using existing data sets, it presents empirical evidence of ‘urban bias’ in the distribution of imported essential medicines in Tanzania : while medicines manufactured in Tanzania are equally likely to be found in rural and urban outlets, imported medicines – especially those manufactured outside the region – are less likely to be available in rural areas. Since rural areas contain a disproportionate share of extreme poverty in Tanzania, these are findings of real concern for health policy. The article explores possible explanations of these observations, and identifies policy implications concerning the potential benefits of linking of health and industrial policy by African policy makers, and potential health benefits were donors to pay greater attention to sourcing from local producers.