Patricio Marquez’s post correctly identifies lack of access to quality medicines as one of the constraints to poor people’s health in Africa. But the solutions he recommends—more public money for “essential drugs benefits”, building resilient institutions, and providing physicians with better scientific information and guidelines about drug prescriptions—are unlikely by themselves to improve poor people’s health outcomes.
More public money. Patricio notes that out-of-pocket expenditures are about 40 percent of total health expenditures and most of this is spent on outpatient drugs. He assumes the reason is that countries have not adopted a program of essential drugs benefits, and the reason for the latter is lack of public resources. But consider the following facts.