Three patients die daily as cancer drugs run out

Tuesday February 11 2014

A woman stands outside the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala.

A woman stands outside the Uganda Cancer Institute in Kampala. At least three to five cancer patients are dying at the Institute every day following a prolonged shortage of drugs. PHOTO BY STEPHEN OTAGE 

By Agatha Ayebazibwe

Kampala- At least three to five cancer patients are dying at the Uganda Cancer Institute per day following a prolonged shortage of drugs which started in December last year.

The deputy director of the institute, Dr Victoria Walusansa, said the shortage has taken a toll on all patients at the only cancer hospital in Uganda.
“We have been communicating with NMS [National Medical Stores] since November about the projected shortage of drugs when our stocks started reducing without replacement, but we have not received any drugs,” she said.

As a result, Dr Walusansa said, patients who could have been saved are dying needlessly.

“The numbers are big because patients who should be going home have remained around hoping to get the drugs,” Dr Walusansa said. “Most of our patients are poor people, so we are in a helpless situation.”

Due to the crisis, patients are given prescription and asked to buy the drugs then take them to the facility for administration. However, this is being done by only patients who can afford the cancer drugs since most of them are very expensive.

“It’s risky because we can’t tell the standard of the drugs bought in private pharmacies,” Dr Walusansa said.

Mr Dan Kimosho, the National Medical Stores spokesperson, however, said: “We delivered drugs for December within in the Cancer Institute budget. We also cross checked with their orders and found out they sent in their January request late.”
He said they have already procured the drugs and the shipment will be within the week.

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