The availability of essential medicines for mental healthcare in Sofala, Mozambique

Publication Date:

15 Jun 2015


Wagenaar BH, Stergachis A, Rao D, Hoek R, Cumbe V, Napua M, et al. (2015). The availability of essential medicines for mental healthcare in Sofala, Mozambique. Glob Health Action. 8(27942). doi: 10.3402/gha.v8.27942



We assessed the availability of essential medicines for mental healthcare (MH) across levels of the public healthcare system to aid in future systems planning.

Non-expired MH medications were assessed in 24 public health facilities and 13 district warehouses across Sofala Province, Mozambique, from July to August 2014. Medication categories included: antipsychotics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antiepileptics and mood stabilizers, and anticholinergics and antihistamines.

Only 7 of 12 (58.3%) district warehouses, 11 of 24 (45.8%) of all health facilities, and 10 of 12 (83.3%) of facilities with trained MH staff had availability of at least one medication of each category. Thioridazine was the most commonly available antipsychotic across all facilities (9 of 24, 37.5%), while chlorpromazine and thioridazine were most common at facilities providing MH care (8 of 12, 66.7%). The atypical antipsychotic risperidone was not available at any facility or district warehouse. Amitriptyline was the most commonly available antidepressant (10 of 12 districts; 12 of 24 overall facilities; 9 or 12 MH facilities). Despite being on the national essential drug list, fluoxetine was only available at one quaternary-level facility and no district warehouses.

Essential psychotropic medicines are routinely unavailable at public health facilities. Current essential drug lists include six typical but no atypical antipsychotics, which is concerning given the side-effect profiles of typical antipsychotics. Ensuring consistent availability of at least one selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor should also be a priority, as they are essential for the treatment of individuals with underlying cardiovascular disease and/or suicidal ideation. Similar to successful task-sharing approaches used for HIV/AIDS, mid-level providers could be retrained and certified to prescribe and monitor first-line psychotropic regimens.


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