This guide is not a dictionary of pharmacological agents. It is a practical manual intended for health professionals, physicians, pharmacists, nurses and health auxiliaries involved in curative care and drug management.
We have tried to provide simple, practical solutions to the questions and problems faced by medical staff, using the accumulated field experience of Médecins Sans Frontières, the recommendations of reference organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and specialized documentation in each field.
This manual is not only used by Médecins Sans Frontières, but also in a wide range of other programmes and contexts.
The list of drugs in this edition has been revised: in accordance to the most recent WHO list of essential medicines, certain drugs have been added, others have been removed.
Among the entries in this guide, some are not listed in the WHO list of essential medicines. However these drugs are in the same pharmaceutical class for which the WHO has named only one "example of a therapeutic group" preceded by a square symbol to indicate that various drugs can be used as alternatives.
Certain medicines, which are not on the WHO list, are still frequently administered although their use is not recommended. These medicines have been included in this guide by entries marked by a grey diagonal line.
The entries are classified according to the route of administration and in alphabetical order. This classification reflects the drug management system proposed in this manual (see Organisation and management of a pharmacy).
Only the main contra-indications, adverse effects, precautions and drug interactions of each drug have been indicated in this manual. For further detailed information refer to specialised literature. Concerning antiretrovirals, the interactions are too many to be listed: it is therefore essential to refer to specialised literature.
This manual is a collective effort by medical professionals from many disciplines, all with field experience.
Despite all efforts, it is possible that certain errors may have been overlooked in this manual. Please inform the authors of any errors detected. It is important to remember, that if in doubt, it is the responsibility of the prescribing medical professional to ensure that the doses indicated in this manual conform to the manufacturer's specifications.
To ensure that this guide continues to evolve while remaining adapted to field realities, please send any comments or suggestions.
As treatment protocols are regularly revised, please check the monthly updates.