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Analytical summary - Medical products, vaccines, infrastructures and equipment

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Botswana has a National Drug Policy that was first developed in 1999. This Policy provides a framework for incorporating the objectives of the pharmaceutical sector into the National Health Policy, service structure and operations. The overall aim of the Policy is to provide drugs of acceptable safety, efficacy and quality, that are available and affordable to all who need them, and to ensure their rational use by providers, dispensers and users.

The National Drug Policy and the drugs regulatory and administrative frameworks strive to create a conducive partnership environment for the public sector, the private sector, and regional and international agencies to allow maximization of scarce resources and cross-fertilization of ideas. The system promotes, supports and encourages the development of a local pharmaceutical industry.

Botswana has adopted the interagency Guidelines for drug donations[1] and recommendations for essential drug list and standardized drug guidelines, use of drug generic names in procurement, training, prescriptions, labelling and patient information.

The Health Professionals Act guides professional practice and the Health Professions Council registers health professionals' processing, and the prescribing and dispensing of drugs. The Drugs Advisory Board registers drugs and oversees their quality and safety.

The Drug Regulatory Unit participates in the harmonization of regulation of medicines in the Southern African Development Community region. Drug donation procedures to support HIV/AIDS programmes are in line with the Government’s treatment standards and protocols and comply with WHO guidelines for drug donations and discounted single source offers.

Procurement of drugs and medical supplies for the public sector is carried out by the Ministry of Health's Central Medical Stores through a local, regional and international tendering system (except where there are special agreements). The Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Board oversees the tendering process and also approves discount and donation agreements. Mine and mission hospitals receive a share of essential public health medicines, and discounted and donated drugs.

The Central Medical Stores uses a computerized system to record the quantities of drugs received and distributed, and the cost of such drugs. The Biomedical Engineering Division is responsible for procurement and distribution of medical equipment, following the same procedures used for drugs.

The private sector procures medicines and medical supplies directly from supplies (country-based wholesalers). However, they are still governed by the national legislation framework governing the public sector. The medical insurance companies have agreed with the local wholesalers that the mark-up for antiretroviral medicines will not exceed 10%. The Central Medical Stores is also responsible for distributing blood for transfusion. The prevalence of HIV in donated blood has dropped from 9% in 2001 to 2.1% in 2007.

The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief-funded Safe Blood Safety for Africa Foundation has played a significant part toward these improvements through its extensive capacity development of the existing blood transfusion infrastructure. The supply of medicines is entirely subsidized by the Government of Botswana. Unfortunately, the relative abundance of medicine has been thought to contribute to wastage of medicines.


  1. Guidelines for drug donations (pdf 72.00kb). WHO and other agencies, revised 1999