By Abou Kisige
Medical experts have asked government to put in place a mechanism that would regulate prices of medicines to increase accessibility for the poor in the country.
The experts suggest that government increases funding for medicines through a national health insurance scheme, improve procurement and supply management capacities and stock the national medical stores with knee and hip implants because the demand is high.
“There is a big variation in medicine prices. Some medicines are overcharged and yet price is the major barrier to access of essential medicines to the poor people, leading to increased death rates,” said Dr. Isaac Kajja, an orthopedic surgeon.
He is also a senior lecturer in the department of Orthopedics of Makerere University College of Health Sciences.
He mentioned that the situation is particularly compromising the health of the estimated 85% of Ugandans living in rural areas.
Dr. Kajja made the remarks during the official launch of unique orthopedic products that included hip and knee implants at Fair Way hotel.
He compared the newly launched Indian hip and knee replacements to orthopedic products from the UK and US and emphasized that the new ones are more durable and more affordable.
Some of the products displayed at the launch. PHOTO/Abou Kisige
The available knee and hip implants cost around US$3200 (about sh8.2m). But Dr. Kajja says theirs are more cost-effective.
He called on government to partner with major stakeholders like dealers in pharmaceuticals, World Health Organization (WHO) and medical experts to advocate for access to safe and affordable medicines.
On average Mulago hospital registers over 20 hip and knee replacements, he revealed.
According to Dr. K H Sancheti, the chief Orthopaedic surgeon at Sancheti hospital in India, Ugandans will pay $1900 (sh4.8m) and $2000 (sh5.1m) for the implants.
“Ugandans should not ignore their health and regret later. We have brought you durable, stable and cheap products which once replaced, last for life,” Sancheti said.
The new products have been tested and used in countries like Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania and in Sudan.
The products, manufactured by Orthovasive Company in India, are imported and distributed by Veeram Healthcare Uganda in Nsambya, a Kampala suburb.
The director of Veeram healthcare Sitaram Deshpande said they represent selected major Indian companies as sole distributors of internationally certified human medicine, disposable and top quality implants at affordable prices.
They also distribute medical sundries, veterinary medicines, feed supplements and herbal cosmetics among other products.
Deshpande explained that Veeram partners with reputable Indian companies like Strides arcolabs, Steadman pharmaceuticals, Intracin pharmaceuticals and Indus knee company.