Uganda’s Health Ministry Orders $1.8M Worth of Antiretrovirals To Address Drug Shortage
Uganda's Ministry of Health is expecting a batch of antiretroviral drugs to "arrive any time," Sam Zaramba, director-general of health services, announced on Tuesday following a drug shortage confirmed by health officials in the country last week, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. The government order for $1.8 million worth of antiretrovirals was placed with Quality Chemicals, a pharmaceutical company based in Uganda's capital of Kampala. According to Quality Chemicals' CEO Emmanuel Katongole, the first batch of the drugs is scheduled to be delivered this week. Zaramba said the drug shortage is temporary and that there is "no need to panic because we are ensuring that [the antiretrovirals] are delivered on time." Zaramba added that an increased demand for antiretrovirals and a scarcity of ingredients needed to produce the drugs are creating a global shortage.
According to the New Vision/AllAfrica.com, about 1,500 people are enrolled in Uganda's antiretroviral treatment program monthly. In addition, 312,000 people in the country are in immediate need of antiretrovirals -- an increase from approximately 225,000 people in 2006. About 42% -- or 130,000 people -- of the total number of people in urgent need of the drugs are receiving the medications, according to the New Vision/AllAfrica.com (Bugembe, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 8/28).