8 January 2013

Rwanda: Drug Shortage Hits Kigali Hospitals

Photo: Irin

Several hospitals around Kigali are facing drug shortage, according to The New Times survey.

Patients at the different health facilities visited by The New Times, yesterday, complained that they were being sent to buy medicine from private pharmacies.

In Gasabo district, although boxes of drugs were supplied to Kibagabaga Hospital last week, a number of patients were still being sent out to buy medicine from pharmacies.

Agnes Bazizana, a patient in her 60's had sat at the hospital since 7 am and by the time she was diagnosed, late in the afternoon, she was told to go buy all the medicine she needed from another pharmacy outside the hospital.

Bazizana who had swollen legs and joints was told that the hospital did not have the particular medicine she needed even though she had health insurance cover.

Melania Ndinyabahari, in her 50's, who had also been at the hospital since early morning said she had waited until late afternoon but was disappointed when told there was no medicine.

"I came here even before all the medics early morning but it's now 3p.m and they are telling me to go buy medicine from a pharmacy. I am suffering from chest and back pain. I thought that with Mituelle (health insuarance) I can get any medicine I need but it seems like it isn't the case here," she said.

She appealed for quick intervention by concerned authorities because some of them can't afford the medicine.

When contacted, Dr Christian Ntizimira, the hospital's director, acknowledged that they had run short of some drug types, adding that the Ministry of Health had brought in some medicine last week.

"There is a type of medicine called specialty that we never have so we always tell patients to get it from outside the hospital. This includes medicine needed in Opthalmology, Obstetric and gynaecology, surgery and Pediatric, among others. We are not out of stock of generic medicine but we don't provide specialty medicine," he said.

However, another reliable source at the same hospital said that some medicines are not yet available, especially for diabetic patients. He also informed The New Times that medicine is out of stock at the government drug supplier, Camerwa. (now under Rwanda Biomedical Centre). However, he hastened to add that the hospital expected to get some more medicine later yesterday.

More to worry about

However, the shortage of drugs was not only felt by patients at Kibagabaga hospital but also at other public hospitals around Kigali, according to our survey.

At CHUK, one of the country's referral hospitals , Fais Mukeshyimana who had brought in her 20-year- old daughter for treatment said she was able to get most of the medicine for her daughter although she was told to buy some of it from private pharmacies.

Her daughter, a second year student at RTUC, Kicukiro who had a blotted stomach was diagonised with cancer.

She nonetheless noted that although they had to buy some medicines, Mituelle had been very helpful in covering most of the expenses they wouldn't have afforded.

John Ngirabakunzi, 41, who has a patient in the Orthopedics ward in CHUK, said that although they had been attended to very well, his patient caught a fever but the medics asked them to buy paracetamol from outside the hospital.

At Muhima Hospital in Nyarugenge district, some dental and joint patients were also advised to buy medication from private pharmacies.

However, Patrick Mwesigye, the coordinator of the Pharmacy Taskforce in the Ministry of Health, refuted the reports of drug shortage, adding that Camerwa is well stocked with medicine.

"No health facility has placed an order for medicine and not gotten it. We have drugs in both public and private health facilities. There are 174 essential medicines that are supposed to be available at every hospital and they are there," he said.

Mwesigye added that they are now working on an electronic system of getting clear information about the supply of medicine in the various health facilities.

Copyright © 2013 The New Times. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.