Bitter Pill: Obstacles to Affordable Medicine

New Patient Profile and Treatment for Chagas Disease

Chagas disease, the third most serious infectious disease in Latin America, is developing a “new face” and moving into urban areas, while a new treatment may offer hope for millions of sufferers.

GHANA: Tropical Ulcer Persists Despite Affordable Solutions

For the past 10 years, Buruli ulcer has been eating Benjamin Essel’s leg. The skin above his ankle is totally gone, and a swollen, pulpy and reddish wound rises almost up to his knee and wraps around his calf. Even still, this is an improvement over recent years.

Patented drugs limit patients access to public health care.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

SOUTH AFRICA: No Political Will to Support Generic Medication

South African health experts are calling on governments to use legally available mechanisms to promote the production or import of generic drugs in their countries.

A four-year-old girl with meningitis sleeps in a makeshift tent in Sigale camp. Her parents left her to go beg for aid.  Credit: Shafi

SOMALIA: Aid Dwindles, Disease Spreads

Doctors in Mogadishu are warning that famine victims in internally displaced camps have become vulnerable to contagious diseases like cholera and measles, as conditions here are ripe for an outbreak. This comes as internally displaced persons complain that relief aid to some camps has dwindled or stopped.

Malawi is experiencing a drug shortage. Credit: Claire Ngozo/IPS

MALAWI: Painkillers Prescribed for Malaria Amid Drug Shortage

Malawi is experiencing a drug shortage as the country's international donors remain reluctant to release aid meant for the health sector.

GHANA: Struggle to Prevent Import of Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit medicines have flooded the market in Ghana and have even made their way into government hospitals as the country’s drug regulator struggles to control the importation of drugs.

Ester Abeja, who was abducted by Lord

UGANDA: Post War Reconstruction Ignores Victims of Sexual Violence

Ester Abeja has experienced both physical and emotional atrocities. She was captured by Uganda's feared rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and was forced to join them. But not before the soldiers made her kill her one-year- old baby girl, by smashing her skull in, and then gang raped her.

The Mawingu camp for internally displaced persons is a desolate place.  Credit: Peter Kahare/IPS

KENYA: Post Election Violence Victims Still Suffer

The Mawingu camp for internally displaced persons affected by Kenya’s 2007- 2008 post-election violence is a desolate place. Located in the Rift Valley, the camp is a collection of tattered, sagging and forlorn tents.

SOUTH AFRICA: Failing Women as Maternal Mortality Quadruples

Only six sub-Saharan African countries have failed to reduce the number of women dying in childbirth over the last two decades. High-spending South Africa is among them, with maternal mortality rates more than quadrupling since 1990. Human Rights Watch researcher Agnes Odhiambo says this is largely due to a lack of accountability.

A mother and daughter who survived the dangerous journey from south Somalia to an aid camp in Mogadishu.  Credit: Abdurrahman Warsameh/IPS

SOMALIA: “I Carried Him a Whole Day While He Was Dead, Thinking He Was Alive”

As the first of food aid from the United Nations World Food Programme was airlifted into Mogadishu on Wednesday, it came too late for Qadija Ali's two- year-old son Farah.

A child from drought-stricken southern Somalia who survived the long journey to an aid camp in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Credit: Abdurrahman Warsameh/IPS

EAST AFRICA: ‘It’s Not a Heartless Mother Leaving a Child Behind, Just One Who Wants to Survive’

On the road between the Kenyan and Somali border lie the dead bodies of children who have succumbed to the famine and the hardships of making the journey from their drought-stricken villages to Kenya.

SWAZILAND: Economic Crisis Means Short Supply of ARVs

Swaziland’s economic crisis has affected its ability to provide healthcare as the country’s buffer stock of antiretrovirals (ARVs) has fallen below the prescribed three-month supply.

KENYA: Providing ARVs to HIV-Negative People Will Strain Resources

When Lucy Omollo found out that her husband was HIV-positive six years ago, the couple thought the best way to prevent her from becoming infected with the virus was not to have sex.

HEALTH-UGANDA: Self Medication Blamed for Increased Drug Resistance

In pharmacies in the heart of Kampala men and women line up to buy drugs that you usually need a prescription for, like Coartem, a drug used to treat malaria.

Dr. Lisa Umphrey is the resident doctor at the Beatrice Tierney Clinic.  Credit: Wambi Michael

UGANDA: In Search of Better Medical Care

Even though government health services are free, Grace Nafungo Kutosi doesn’t mind paying the two thousand shillings (about one dollar) when she visits the non-governmental Beatrice Tierney Clinic in Bumwalukani village. In fact, paying the fee at the clinic, which is a 20-minute walk from her home, is cheaper than her having to travel to the nearest government clinic almost seven kilometres away.

It is not easy to identify counterfeit drugs from the genuine.  Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

KENYA: Strategy to Counter Counterfeit Medicine

In Kenya buying medicine from any unregistered pharmacy outlet means that you are running a higher risk of buying either substandard or counterfeit drugs that form 30 percent of all drugs sold in the country.

“BRICS Can Ensure Affordable Drugs”

While ‘data exclusivity’ clauses will not feature in the India-European Union free trade agreement (FTA), the threat posed by the impending deal to the world’s supply of cheap generic drugs is far from over.

Medical officers place a patient under anaesthesia.  Credit: Protus Onyango/IPS

KENYA: People Dying Because of Lack of Anaesthetics

One person dies weekly in Kenya due to a shortage of anaesthetics and the situation is worse in slums and rural areas across the country.

Registered nurse George du Plessis takes a patient's blood pressure in the mobile clinic. Credit: Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

NAMIBIA: Investing in the Health of Farm Workers

In one of the most sparsely populated countries on the planet, people travel up to 200 kilometres in the simmering heat to see a nurse or get basic medication.

A nurse shows one of the mostly commonly used contraceptives.  Credit:  Wambi Michael/IPS

UGANDA-HEALTH: When Women Go Without Needed Contraceptives

When the monthly contraceptive injection that Bernadette Asiimwe, a mother of four, got from government health centres in western Uganda was out of stock for weeks, she fell pregnant with her fifth child.

The drugs subsidised through the Affordable Medicines Facility - malaria.  Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

KENYA: No Longer Forced to Buy Ineffective Anti-Malarial Drugs

People in Western Kenya are now able to buy effective anti-malarial drugs at low prices thanks to the success of the Global Fund’s subsidy programme, and thanks to honest pharmacists who are reselling the drugs at the recommended low prices.

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