Before the launch of the Improving Market Partnerships and Access to Commodities Together (IMPACT) Program in 2018, drug shops in Madagascar were grouped into a few associations at the national level. Over time, these national associations had become inactive—their registration documents were no longer up to date, and they were no longer working to represent the interests of drug shops. The Ministry of Public Health Directorate of Pharmacies, Laboratories, and Traditional Medicine (DPLMT) stated that regional associations would be helpful to ensure that the interests of local drug shops are defended at the national level.
IMPACT and DPLMT have worked together to develop the idea with drug shops of creating their own regional associations. The project’s Access to Finance team and the DPLMT co-facilitate information sessions in the field for all legally registered drug shops, updating them on current regulations. In addition to these mandatory half-day sessions, IMPACT also offers an optional one-and-a-half day business training. Drug shop owners at the trainings are invited to consider creating a regional association, with time allocated during the workshop for the election of provisional board members. To date, DPLMT and IMPACT have conducted four in-person information sessions in the following regions: Atsinanana, Boeny, Menabe, and Sava. The IMPACT team alone held informational sessions along with the trainings in Analanjirofo and Vatovavy Fitovinany.
Once the drug shops in a region have created a provisional board of directors, IMPACT provides them with samples of the documents they will need to create an association in Madagascar (statutes, rules of procedure, minutes of constitution, list of board members) as well as information on the registration process to be followed, including notifying the regional office of the Ministry of Public Health.
To date, IMPACT has supported the legal establishment of drug shop associations in four regions: Analanjirofo, Atsinanana, Sava, and Menabe. Two other associations are in the process of being registered in the Boeny and Vatovavy Fitovinany regions.
IMPACT supports associations by strengthening their capacity to organize events such as their general assemblies, including activities such as financial management training to generate interest from their members. The IMPACT team guides the association boards on setting a timetable for planning activities, how to establish a budget, and how to write sponsorship requests for pharmaceutical laboratories and wholesalers.
Two of the newly created regional drug shop associations held their first general assemblies in the latter part of 2021, thanks to the financial and technical support of the IMPACT project. ADEMERA, l’Association de Depôts de Médicaments of Atsinanana held its first general assembly on November 26, with 25 members present, and the ADMRA association of Analanjirofo held its meeting on December 17 with 33 members present. Each association found three sponsors for its meeting, with sponsors covering 39 percent of the costs for ADEMERA and 94 percent of the costs for ADMRA. The remaining amount was covered by IMPACT. Both associations were able to organize financial management training sessions for their members, led by the drug shop peer trainers who attended IMPACT’s training of trainers in October 2021.
Regional drug shop associations have an important role in advocating for the interests of their members. Once they are legally registered, these associations are recognized by the Ministry of Public Health and are systematically invited to participate in meetings concerning the regulation and distribution of health commodities at the national level. IMPACT’s support is helping create a lasting infrastructure to ensure that the opinions of drug shops are heard and that they can continue their crucial role in distributing medicines throughout Madagascar.