The price of treating malaria

A number of pharmacies in Dar es Salaam continue to sell anti-malaria medication at the wrong price for both children’s and adults’ doses.

These findings were released in a brief entitled The price of treating malaria: can government, donors, the private sector and citizens together make medication more affordable? The results are based on a random survey of 58 pharmacies from each district of Dar es Salaam conducted by Youth Initiatives Tanzania (YITA). YITA field workers went into pharmacies and asked for a child’s or adult’s dose of Artemether-lumefantrine (Alu), the World Health Organization recommended frontline treatment for malaria.

Alu was chosen because the Affordable Medicines for Malaria (AMFm) pilot program, hosted by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, supports private and public sector importers to order subsidized supplies of Alu. Tanzania is one of seven African countries in which AMFm is being piloted so that the price of an adult dose of Alu is TZS 1000 and a child’s dose is TZS 500. This price has been widely promoted through television and radio public service announcements, through a Ministry of Health and Social Welfare press release and, since July and August 2011, printed materials promoting Alu contained the recommended price.

The study found

  • Out off the 55 pharmacies that would sell a child’s dose of Alu, almost all of them asked for TZS 1000 or more. Only one pharmacy sold the medicine at the recommended price for a child’s dose.
  • In the case of an adult dose, almost one out of two pharmacies (48%) sold Alu for more than TZS 1000. Almost one quarter (23%) sold Alu for TZS 2000 or more.
  • There is also variation between districts – wealthier districts are more likely to sell Alu for higher prices. Almost half of the pharmacies in Kinondoni (47%) sold Alu for TZS 2000 or more while in Temeke over three-quarters (79%) of pharmacies sold Alu at the recommended price of TZS 1000.

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Authors: Abner Okello



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