Malaria drug price cut to sh2,000

Joyce Namutebi | 12 Apr 2011
New Vision
The cost of malaria drugs is to come down from sh20,000 to sh2,000 a dose in a bid to eliminate one of the leading killer diseases in Uganda.

Health minister Dr. Stephen Mallinga announced yesterday that the Affordable Medicines Facility for Malaria (AMFM) will be launched in Bulisa district on April 29. Health officials said the drugs would be in the country before the launch date.

Malaria kills 320 Ugandans daily. This translates into 116,800 deaths a year. Studies show that development in Africa lags behind by 32 years due to malaria, Mallinga said.

"Children perform poorly in class due to the effects of malaria. Lots of family incomes are spent on treating malaria at the expense of other social sectors. Malaria contributes heavily to poverty," he told journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala yesterday.

The global goal is to eliminate the disease by 2015.

In February, the Government signed a $28.6m (about sh60b) two-year grant with the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by implementing the anti-malaria strategy.

The strategy, he said, aims at increasing the availability of Artemisin-Based Combination Therapies (ACTs) in public and private outlets, reducing their prices and ensuring that malaria patients have access to the drugs. ACTs consist of lumertem artemisin, coartem and duo-cotecxin, Mallinga said the drugs would cost sh2,000. "We are negotiating with pharmacies all over the country and drug shops where there is a professional person to sell the drugs at this price," he said.

The Global Fund will meet 95% of the cost and users 5%.

Mallinga said the ministry had introduced the use of rapid diagnostic tests to improve access to testing malaria before treatment to avoid wasting drugs. He warned health workers against demanding for money from patients.

The minister disclosed that he was planning to put a system where all hospital deaths are investigated and culprits penalised in case of foul play.

He said in other countries, deaths in hospitals become a coroner's cases, which are probed by the Police.