16 June 2017

Uganda: Masaka Health Centres Run Out of Anti-Malaria Drugs

Photo: The Observer
Children waiting for medication at Kiyumba health centre.

An anti-malaria drug stock-out has hit several health centers in Masaka district leaving several patients stranded and woebegone.

The most affected are Kiyumba health centre IV, Kyabakuza health centre, Masaka municipal clinic, Kyanamukaka health centre III and Buwunga health centre.

Health workers in the affected health centers, say they haven't had artesunate, injectable quinine and IV water (drips) for the last two weeks. Currently, the health centers are giving patients coartem. Florence Kawalya, a senior nursing officer at Kiyumba health centre IV in Mukungwe sub-county, says they haven't received the recommended anti malaria drugs since last month.

According to Kawalye, the drugs ran out because of the surge in Malaria cases in the area from 10 to between 40 and 50 cases each day. Sister Kawalya explains that they alerted the National Medical Stores (NMS) about the drug stock-outs but they are yet to receive new supplies.

Information obtained at the affected health centers show that 98% of the patients they receive have malaria. The medical officers attribute the high malaria cases to the increase of mosquito breeding areas because of the rainy season.

70-year-old Cotilda Nassolo is one of those suffering from severe Malaria. Uganda Radio Network found her shivering and vomiting at Kiyumba health center IV. Nassolo told URN that medics had advised her to buy anti-malarial drugs but she didn't have any money on her.

At Buwunga health center III, the situation is the same. Teddy Namayanja, the in-ccharge of the Health center, says they are referring malaria patients to other health facilities because they lack medicine to treat them.

Namayanja says many residents don't sleep under mosquito nets to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Some of the malaria patients have resorted to herbal concoctions they produce from Alovera also known as Kigajji to treat Malaria.

Those who can afford buy malaria drugs from private clinics. A dose of malaria drugs goes for between Shs 30,000 and Shs 70,000 in Masaka according to a mini survey conducted by URN. Johnson Kabugu, the coordinator of Village Health Teams in Kasaka parish, claims that many people in the villages are in desperate need of drugs.

He explains that the district always gives them drugs to administer medication to people in the villages but they currently have none. Kabugu notes that the health system has collapsed completely in Mukungwe sub-county because they no longer have gloves and mosquito nets to distribute to children and expectant mothers.

Dr Stuart Musisi, the Masaka district health officer, says NMS never supplied them malaria drugs in the last quarter. He however, declined to divulge details on the matter, saying he is locked up in an important meeting.

Dan Kimosho, the spokesperson of NMS promised to get back when contacted despite various attempts but our reporter to get back to him.

The drug stock-out comes at a time when NMS and the Finance ministry are feuding over the whereabouts of part of the $200 million acquired by government from the Preferential Trade Area (PTA Bank) for procurement of drugs.



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