Diseases causing high mortality in children under 5 years of age in resource limited settings (RLS) could be treated if children in these countries had access to existing medicines. It took 30 years before the WHO Essential Medicines List (EML) considered the issue of medicines for children, with the first EML for children being published in 2007. Recent data indicate that less than half of the key paediatric essential medicines are available in countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Problems include substandard medicines, irrational use of medicines, inefficiency and even possible corruption in pharmaceutical management systems. These are global issues which affect RLS most. Clinical trials in developing countries for the benefit of children are needed but challenging in several ways. In this review, the authors will consider the following areas where progress could improve paediatric pharmacotherapy in RLS: registration and regulation of medicines, rational use of medicines, clinical trials in children and restriction of corruption in pharmaceutical management systems.
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