A drug procurement, storage and distribution model in public hospitals in a developing country

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There is growing interest in pharmaceutical supply chains and distribution of medications at national and international levels. Issues of access and efficiency have been called into question. However, evaluations of system outcomes are not possible unless there are contextual data to describe the systems in question. Available guidelines provided by international advisory bodies such as the World Health Organization and the International Pharmacy Federation may be useful for developing countries like Vietnam when seeking to describe the pharmaceutical system.


The purpose of this study was to describe a conceptual model for drug procurement, storage, and distribution in four government-owned hospitals in Vietnam.


This study was qualitative and used semi-structured interviews with key informants from within the Vietnamese pharmaceutical system. Translated transcriptions were used to conduct a content analysis of the data.


A conceptual model for the Vietnamese pharmaceutical system was described using structural and functional components. This model showed that in Vietnam, governmental policy influences the structural framework of the system, but allows for flexibility at the functional level of practice. Further, this model can be strongly differentiated from the models described by international advisory bodies. This study demonstrates a method for health care systems to describe their own models of drug distribution to address quality assurance, systems design and benchmarking for quality improvement.

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