Ghana To Expand Distribution of Antiretrovirals, Malaria Drugs Under Revised Health Care Guidelines
The Ghanaian government is planning a "big increase" in the number of HIV-positive people who receive antiretroviral drugs in the country under "tough new guidelines" recently issued for health care workers and a revised list of essential medicines, IRIN/Reuters AlertNet reports. The 517-page guidelines, issued as the government "prepares for a big hike" in health spending, aim to "deliver efficient treatment" at the lowest cost, according to IRIN/Reuters AlertNet. Included in the guidelines is an "ambitious plan" to increase the number of people receiving government-subsidized antiretrovirals at a cost of $6 million by 2006 -- four times the almost $1.5 million spent to provide 2,100 people with the drugs in 2004. Currently, the Ministry of Health spends $600 per person per month on antiretrovirals, while patients are charged only $5 for the treatments, according to IRIN/Reuters AlertNet. The health ministry also plans to "tackle" malaria, which affects at least three million people in the country annually, by replacing the current chloroquine treatment with the more expensive artesunate-amodiaquine as the first-line treatment, according to the country's Malaria Control Program. According to Sam Boateng, head of the health ministry's drug procurement division, the new treatments will cost $1.30 per patient -- an increase from the previous 10 cents per patient under the chloroquine regimen. "We hope there will be less malarial infections as we go along, and this should reduce the cost of buying antimalarial drugs," Boateng said. Current drugs used to treat tuberculosis in the country will remain unchanged while health care workers observe drug-resistant strains of the disease (IRIN/Reuters AlertNet, 1/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.