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Community drug outlets are sprouting across the Philippines to provide affordable access to essential medicines for the poor. A programme of the government’s Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), “Botika ng Barangay” (or village pharmacies) now has 16,350 outlets located in underserved and remote areas of the country.

An accredited community organisation and/or a local government unit manage each outlet, with a trained operator and a supervising pharmacist. The outlets are licensed to sell or distribute low-priced generic and essential medicines for common diseases, including popular prescription antibiotics like amoxicillin and cotrimoxazole.

Robert Louie So, PhilHealth vice president for internal audit, is one of the scientists who designed and implemented the community-based programme. In this podcast, he tells SciDev.Net about the early challenges they faced, the lessons that can be learned by other countries and the importance of leadership training among young physicians to drive positive change in the healthcare system.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's South-East Asia & Pacific desk.