Central African Journal of Medicine

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Price and availability survey of essential medicines in the Harare province, Zimbabwe

A Marume, G Nyandoro, I Mutingwende, P Murambinda, B Bangalee


Background: Access to essential medicines is both a fundamental basic right and necessity for everyone, thus concerted efforts should be made to ensure universal access to safe, quality and effective medicines.
Objectives: To determine prices, sources and availability of essential medicines (their innovator and/or generic equivalents) in both private retail and public pharmacies.
Setting: Private and public sector retail pharmacies in Harare metropolitan province, Zimbabwe.
Materials and Methods: Forty medicines were selected for the survey. A standardised methodology developed by the World Health Organization and Health Action International (WHO/HAI) was used to survey the selected medicines. The survey was conducted in 110 private pharmacies and the two central hospital pharmacies in Harare. Prices were compared with International Reference Prices (IRPs).
Results: In both sectors, availability of the selected medicines (Low Priced Generics) was high (>80%). Fewer innovator brands were found for the selected medicines. Median Price Ratios (MPR) of Lowest Priced Generics (LPG) showed better access to essential medicines is hindered by the high prices obtaining in the private sector (with median MPR of 4.52). The public sector showed significant progress towards procurement efficiency (median MPR of 1.5). More than 70% of the surveyed medicines were from manufacturers outside Zimbabwe with more than 60% from Indian generic manufacturers.
Conclusion: Accessibility of essential medicines from private retail pharmacies in Harare, Zimbabwe is poor due to the high prices of these medicines as compared to public pharmacies. Promoting local production of essential medicines is necessary as it may be one of the practical ways of increasing access to quality, safe and effective medicines

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