Kampala — The Ministry of Health is in the process of procuring Septrin, to end a stock out of the vital anti-biotic at National Medical Stores.
Septrin is the brand name for a combination of antibiotics called cotrimoxazole, the main drug used to treat and to prevent a type of pneumonia called PCP. It also offers a high level of protection against toxoplasmosis and bacterial infections and is used to treat and fight conditions like flu, malaria, diarrhoea and tuberculosis.
According to medical experts, Septrin is the most effective drug for preventing PCP, especially for people whose CD4 count falls below 100. Uganda in 2005 adopted a policy of providing Septrin for HIV-infected based on recommendations from World Health Organization. Since then, with support from Development Partners, the Government of Uganda has provided the medicine to people living with HIV.
But most of the public health facilities and ARV-accredited sites in the country haven't received Septrin for the past five months due to a funding shortfall to the health sector. However, Dr Charles Olaro, the Acting Director General of Health Services says supply is expected to resume in July.
"By July 2018, the supply of Septrin will be fully restored and distributed to all health facilities affected by the shortages," he added.
Dr Olaro says the ministry is undertaking a research on whether all HIV patients need Septrin. When the research is completed, he says the ministry may consider giving Septrin to a specific class of patients.
"There is scientific data indicating that patients who have been on Antiretroviral (ARV) treatment are virally suppressed and therefore categorized as stable and may not require continued use of Septrin. Once this policy review is concluded, the ministry may consider prioritizing patients such as pregnant women, children and those new on ARV treatment to ensure rational use of resources," he said.
Dr Olaro says government and development partners have annual quantification and procurement plans for HIV prevention and treatment commodities including HIV test kits, condoms, ARVs, Septrin and laboratory supplies.
For this budget period, he says, appropriate funds were allocated for the procurement of these commodities directly from the suppliers. However, Olaro says some challenges delayed delivery of Septrin.
"Whereas for the majority of the commodities, the suppliers were able to provide them in their anticipated timelines, there were challenges with the lead time from manufacture to delivery that has resulted in stock out of Septrin in the country. From the available information from the manufacturers, Deliveries of Septrin are anticipated to be made in the next one month," he said.