Globalization and Health

, 8:22

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Availability, prices and affordability of the World Health Organization’s essential medicines for children in Guatemala

  • Angela AnsonAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Pharmacy, University of California Email author 
  • , Brooke RamayAffiliated withLa Universidad del Valle de Guatemala Email author 
  • , Antonio Ruiz de EsparzaAffiliated withCedar Associates
  • , Lisa BeroAffiliated withDepartment of Clinical Pharmacy, Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California



Several World Health Organization (WHO) initiatives aim to improve the accessibility of safe and effective medicines for children. A first step in achieving this goal is to obtain a baseline measure of access to essential medicines. The objective of this project was to measure the availability, prices, and affordability of children’s medicines in Guatemala.


An adaption of the standardized methodology developed by the World Health Organization and Health Action International (HAI) was used to conduct a cross sectional survey to collect data on availability and final patient prices of medicines in public and private sector medicine outlets during April and May of 2010.


A subset of the public sector, Programa de Accesibilidad a los Medicamentos (PROAM), had the lowest average availability (25%) compared to the private sector (35%). In the private sector, highest and lowest priced medicines were 22.7 and 10.7 times more expensive than their international reference price comparison. Treatments were generally unaffordable, costing as much as 15 days wages for a course of ceftriaxone.


Analysis of the procurement, supply and distribution of specific medicines is needed to determine reasons for lack of availability. Improvements to accessibility could be made by developing an essential medicines list for children and including these medicines in national purchasing lists.


Guatemala Essential medicines for children National formulary Availability World Health Organization