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Malaria Drug Shortages in Kenya: A Major Failure to Provide Access to Effective Treatment

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  • 1 Malaria Public Health and Epidemiology Group, Kenya Medical Research Institute/Wellcome Trust Programme Nairobi, Kenya; Kenya Red Cross, Malindi, Kenya; Eastern and Southern Africa Centre of International Parasite Control/Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya; Division of Malaria Control, Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya; Health Policy Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom; Department of International Health, School of Public Health and Center for International Health and Development, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts; Centre for Tropical Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, United Kingdom

A key bench mark of successful therapeutic policy implementation, and thus effectiveness, is that the recommended drugs are available at the point of care. Two years after artemether-lumefathrine (AL) was introduced for the management of uncomplicated malaria in Kenya, we carried out a cross-sectional survey to investigate AL availability in government facilities in seven malaria-endemic districts. One of four of the surveyed facilities had none of the four AL weight-specific treatment packs in stock; three of four facilities were out of stock of at least one weight-specific AL pack, leading health workers to prescribe a range of inappropriate alternatives. The shortage was in large part caused by a delayed procurement process. National ministries of health and the international community must address the current shortcomings facing antimalarial drug supply to the public sector.

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