Greedy pharmacists a threat to malaria war

11 Nov 2010
Daily Nation
That malaria is a major health and economic burden in this country in not in doubt, and this may continue to be the case for quite a while.

In the past five years, Kenya and the global community have spent huge amounts of money and resources to accelerate efforts to reduce the malaria burden.

Combining more effective drugs and mosquito nets, the government has an ambitious programme that targets the eradication of malaria by 2017.

This is a huge undertaking and will not be met unless there is radical thinking and actions to ensure that the tools necessary for fighting the disease are universally accessible.

Such radical actions have not been lacking. A recent example is an undertaking to reduce the cost of highly effective malaria medicines by over 80 per cent.

Theoretically, the cost of treatment has dropped from Sh500 to Sh40. But these efforts are being thwarted by pharmacists who have refused to sell the medicines at the recommended prices.

Although the government could be blamed for putting the cart before the horse by introducing the medicines before educating Kenyans about their availability, the pharmacists have a moral responsibility to help the country to the fight a disease that kills thousands of children and expectant women.

It is time the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya and the Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association identified and shamed their colleagues who are sabotaging this expensive but worthy effort.

Kenyans must also play their part. They must insist on paying the government recommended price for this particular medicines.

The government must also clarify its new policy that requires that malaria patients be tested first before any treatment is offered.