Original Research

Medicines availability at a Swaziland hospital and impact on patients

Kholiwe Shabangu, Fatima Suleman
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 7, No 1 | a829 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v7i1.829 | © 2015 Kholiwe Shabangu, Fatima Suleman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 January 2015 | Published: 14 September 2015

About the author(s)

Kholiwe Shabangu, Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Fatima Suleman, Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Health Sciences, Westville Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Background: The burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in low- and middle-income countries is increasing. Where patients are expected to make increased out-of-pocket payments this can lead to treatment interruptions or non-adherence. Swaziland is no exception in this regard.

Aim: The aim of the study was to investigate the availability of medicines for NCDs in a hospital and the impact of out-of-pocket spending by patients for medicines not available at the hospital.

Setting: The study was conducted at Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini, Swaziland.

Methods: Exit interviews to assess availability of a selected basket of medicines were conducted with 300 patients diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension or asthma. The stock status record of a basket of medicines for these conditions in 2012 was assessed at the Central Medical Stores. Results were analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 20.0.

Results: Most of the patients (n = 213; 71%) confirmed not receiving all of their prescribed medicines at each visit to the hospital in the past six months. On average patients spent 10–50 times more on their medicines at private pharmacies compared to user fees in the health facility. Stock-outs at the Central Medical Stores ranging from 30 days to over 180 days were recorded during the course of the assessment period (12 months), and were found to contribute to inconsistent availability of medicines in the health facility.

Conclusion: Out-of-pocket expenditure is common for patients with chronic conditions using this health facility, which suggests the possibility of patients defaulting on treatment due to lack of affordability.


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