Using participatory action research to develop an essential medicine supply competency framework for primary health care personnel in Pacific Island Countries

  • Andrew Nelson Brown University of Canberra
  • Ben Gilbert University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT Australia 2601
  • Andreia Fradinho Bruno International Pharmacy Federation – Education Initiatives UCL School of Pharmacy University of London, London, United Kingdom
Keywords: competencies, competency, competency framework, essential medicines, Pacific, Pacific Island countries, pharmacy, primary health care, supply management


Background and objectives

Many maternal and child health related deaths in Pacific Island Countries may be prevented with readily available medicines provided by suitably trained health personnel. A systematic approach to improving essential medicines supply management competency has begun in the region with the need to develop a competency framework for primary health care personnel in the Pacific Islands identified as a priority. The aim of this research is to determine the competencies required by primary health care personnel involved in essential medicine supply managment at the primary health care level within Pacific Island Countries.


Primary health care personnel (nurses, midwives, health extension officers, nurse aids) working at the facility level within Pacific Island Countries.


Through a process of participatory action research, academics, Ministry of Health officials and health personnel, worked together to develop and validate a competency framework suitable for the region. Three cycles of participatory action research were conducted: cycle one - a draft competency framework was developed using existing frameworks, validated by workplace observation and survey; cycle two – the draft framework was presented and discussed at eight workshops to validate and finalise the framework; cycle three – the final competency framework was validated using an online survey tool.


A validated competency framework with a high degree of relevance was generated for primary health care personnel at the facility level (Level 1). The framework contains 70 competencies, organised into four clusters, addressing supply, professional practice, public health and patient related competencies specific for the primary health care environments of Pacific Island Countries.


The four competency clusters represent a focus on the supply system, professional practice, public health and the patient. This four dimensional focus reflects the importance of addressing medication selection, procurement, distribution, use, and management for an effective medicines supply system.


Primary health care personnel including nurses and nurse aids responsible for EMSM and its supervision at the facility level, are encouraged to use this tool when considering appropriate training and when monitoring staff effectiveness in their local environments. This framework could be used as a basis to develop similar frameworks in other international environments.

Author Biographies

Andrew Nelson Brown, University of Canberra
Faculty of Health, Discipline of Pharmacy, Assistant Professor.
Ben Gilbert, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT Australia 2601
Lecturer, Faculty of Health
University of Canberra,
Andreia Fradinho Bruno, International Pharmacy Federation – Education Initiatives UCL School of Pharmacy University of London, London, United Kingdom

Project Co-ordinator and Researcher

International Pharmacy Federation – Education Initiatives

UCL School of Pharmacy

University of London,


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How to Cite
Brown, A. N., Gilbert, B., & Bruno, A. F. (2013). Using participatory action research to develop an essential medicine supply competency framework for primary health care personnel in Pacific Island Countries. International Journal of Nursing, 1(2), 13-24. Retrieved from
Community Health Nursing