Availability of prescribed medicines for elders at Sekou-Toure Regional Referral Hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania
Many older people are unable to afford even basic treatment, let alone, the medications needed to control chronic diseases that become more prevalent in older age. This study was conducted to assess the implementation of the Tanzania national exemption policy on availability of prescribed medicines in elderly people. This cross-sectional study was conducted at Sekou-Toure Regional Referral Hospital in Mwanza, Tanzania, from April to June 2016. Randomly selected outpatients aged above 60 years who attended the hospital were involved in the study. Data were collected by using interview guided questionnaire. Each patient was privately interviewed to obtain information on availability of medicines prescribed and whether or not the medicines were provided free-of-charge according to the exemption policy. A total of 100 outpatients were involved in the study. The mean age was 66.25 years (range= 60 to 87 years). About one-third (31%) were members of social security fund receiving monthly retirement pension. Only 27% (p-value=0.44) of elders received all medicines as per prescription. Majority of elder patients (39.7%) received 50% of prescribed medicines per prescription while 4.1% did not receive any medicine prescribed and only 1.4% received 80% of medicines prescribed. Results show that almost 50% of elders with diabetes received all anti-diabetics prescribed while 37% of elders received all antihypertensive prescribed. There is poor availability of medicines used by elderly people at Sekou-Toure Regional Mwanza thus elders do not get free medicines as per national cost sharing policy.