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Essential medicines get major financial boost

By | June 11th 2010

By Elizabeth Mwai

The Government has doubled the budgetary allocation for essential medicines to Sh5.3billion.

The funds set aside this financial year for buying essential medicines minus Antiretroviral drugs have risen from Sh2.5 billion last year to Sh4.4 billion.

At the same time, the funds allocated for purchase of Antiretrovirals (ARVs) have increased from Sh500 million last year to Sh900 million, offering a ray of hope to the hundreds of thousands who will be in dire need of the life saving drugs.

"As a Government that cares for its people, we are not just putting more money to avail medicines in our healthcare facilities for curative purposes. We are also going ahead to strengthen the management of medical supplies chain," said Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Drug shortage

This major financial boost comes at a time when the country has experienced drugs stock outs in public health facilities, with patients being sent to buy drugs in private chemists.

With 166,000 new infections occurring annually, demand for people in need of the drugs is expected to overrun the current capacity.

Out of the 1.4 million people living with HIV/Aids, about 360,000 are on ARVs, with 90 per cent of the medicines being funded by donors.

According to the National Aids and STD Control Programme (Nascop) Director Nicholas Muraguri, an estimated 120,000 people in dire need of the drugs don’t get them due to lack of money.

Muraguri said their universal target for availing ARVs is to reach 80 per cent of the population in need, which is about 480,000 people.

Big demand

He said monthly, they recruit between 7,000 to 10,000 people in need of ARVS, but with the high infection rate, the demand is set to rise.

The budget has also allocated Sh1 billion to enable recruitment of 3,150 additional nurses and 1,050 health technicians in all the 210 constituencies.

A further Sh265 million has been given for purchase of an additional five motorcycles, operations and maintenance, employment of 10 health community workers and provision of medical supplies in all the constituencies.

The Government has also allocated an additional Sh5 million for each constituency towards expanding the healthcare facilities to include wards for children and adults.

Uhuru has further provided money for the purchase of 300 ambulances for emergency use in health facilities.

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