There is an acute shortage of Artemisin Combination Therapy [ACT] drugs for the treatment of malaria in public health centers country wide. This has been disclosed in a survey carried commissioned by Medicines for Malaria Ventures, an international none profit marking organization.
789 health centers in the districts of Soroti, Kamwenge, Pallisa, Kaliro, Mubende, Mityana, Kabarole, Kampala and Budaka took part in the survey. According to the survey 50 percent of the public health centers have ACT stocks outs for the last two months, while only 4 percent of the privately owned health centers have the drug.
The survey also reveals that 50 percent of the patients had access to the ineffective low priced drugs such as Chloroquine.
Dr Ambrose Talisuna the Africa representative of Medicines for Malaria Ventures says the shortage of the first line of drugs used in the treatment of malaria such as Coartem is unacceptable and spells great danger for the health sector.
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ACTs were introduced in Uganda last year to replace the ineffective malaria drugs. In the survey only 10 percent of the drugs found on the market were found to be ACTs. Quinine and chroloquine that are discouraged by the ministry of health account for 43 percent of the malaria drugs on the market.
The director general of health services in the ministry of health, Dr. Sam Zaramba says that he had not yet received the report released last week. He however blames the stock outs on poor planning by districts. He says that most districts underestimate their required stocks.
Zaramba says that the National Medical Stores is working out a way to ensure constant supply of drugs. The survey recommends increased involvement of local producers in the supply of drugs, improvement of supply chain management and engaging the private sector to make avail the drugs at a subsidized price.
Under the regulations of the second phase of health sector strategic plan which started this year, it is not acceptable for public health units to run out of first line drugs due to the high rate of deaths caused by malaria. 20-23 percent of all deaths in Uganda are attributed to malaria related illnesses.