A national medicine policy (NMP), formerly referred to as a national drug policy (NDP) is a document that serves as a political commitment and guide for action by the government to provide safe, efficacious, quality assured, available, affordable and rationally used medicines. This is the first study to review the implemented components of the NMPs of the 16 South African Development Community (SADC) countries over the past ten years (2011–2021). Information published between 2011 and 2021 of each country such as pharmaceutical profiles, official government documents, WHO/HAI/World Bank datasets and research studies on the implemented components were appraised. Significant progress has been made by 16 SADC countries over the period 2011–2021 in implementing the NMP. The most commonly implemented components included the concept of essential medicines, pricing, and regulation. Though traditional and herbal medicines component is yet to be implemented by the majority. The pharmacist-patient ratio of 1:2300 was below the target for all countries, prompting the need to strengthen the pharmacy personnel in the healthcare systems. Medicine pricing, affordability, and availability studies are necessary to develop equitable pricing policies that will improve the accessibility of medicines in all countries and the SADC region. With the exception of the Republic of Tanzania, SADC countries need to urgently revise their NMPs, thus adopting progressive processes such as incorporating Health Technology Assessment (HTA) in the NMP. All SADC countries require a strong, internationalistic evaluation culture built-in their policy formulation. As the first study to investigate the implemented NMPs in the SADC region, it could serve as a springboard for the countries to address their common pharmaceutical challenges thus improving their readiness for universal health coverage (UHC). Future in-depth cross-country studies in the SADC region are necessary to comprehensively evaluate the implemented components of NMPs.
- Monitoring and evaluation
- National medicine policy
- Policy implementation
- Southern African developing community