ACTs Too Expensive in Uganda, Pharmacies Should Reduce Prices, Health Official Says
The artemisinin-based combination therapy Coartem is too expensive for many people in Uganda, and pharmacies should reduce the cost of the drug to increase availability, Baterana Byarugaba, a senior consultant at Mulago Hopsital, said recently, the Monitor reports. Although government hospitals provide Coartem at no cost, the drug often is not in stock, leading some people to purchase it from private clinics for between 15,000 Ugandan shillings and 20,000 Ugandan shillings, or between $7 and $9. However, many people cannot afford to purchase ACTs from private clinics.
"About 80% of Ugandans buy drugs from pharmacies to treat themselves before going to the hospitals, but ACTs continue to be very expensive," Byarugaba said. John Bosco Rwakimari, former manager of Uganda's Malaria Control Program, added that increased availability of ACTs could lead to the success of other malaria interventions. According to the Monitor, Uganda's National Drug Authority recently arrested several health workers who allegedly sold Coartem that was supposed to be provided to malaria patients at no cost.
Malaria is the No. 1 cause of death in Uganda and accounts for about 320 deaths daily, according to the Ministry of Health. In addition, between 70,000 and 110,000 Ugandan children die from the disease annually, the Monitor reports (Nafula, Monitor, 4/14).