What you need to know:
- Drug shortage has contributed to treatment delays, disease proliferation, complications and treatment failure.
Government health facilities in Jinja City are facing a shortage of mental health drugs, leaving patients without treatment for the past one year.
Mr Joel Ssemwanga, the executive director of Uganda Mental Health Fellowship Atanekontola (UMHF-A), an association of people living with mental illness in Busoga Sub-region, told Monitor on Wednesday that many patients cannot afford drugs from private health facilities.
“Many patients are financially incapacitated while others have been accessing the drugs from private hospitals after spending a year without getting them from the government health facilities such as Bugembe Health Centre IV,” Mr Ssemwanga said.
He added that with the exception of mood stabilisers, drugs such as carbamazepine and sodium valproate are too expensive, while others, upon receipt, are left with as little as two months to expire.
“Drugs such as sodium valproate are too costly, and while antipsychotics heal, they are expensive and supplied in low quantities. Some patients receive injections such as olanzapine but these are also expensive,’’ he said.
According to Mr Ssemwanga, the unavailability of drugs has contributed to treatment delays, disease proliferation, complications and treatment failure.
The UMHF-A coordinator, Ms Juliet Namuganza, said regular supply of psychotropic medications is one of the critical aspects in the provision of quality mental health services, but remain a big challenge in the area.
Ms Namuganza appealed to the government to ensure that there is adequate supply of psychotropic medications in its facilities to improve mental health in the sub-region.
“Most health facilities are not equipped with enough resources, including continuous supply of essential psychotropic medications that can improve on the quality of mental healthcare,” she said.
Ms Ruth Nakachwa, a mental health patient, said her behaviour changes when she misses some dozes.
“I have gone without most of the essential drugs such as Carbamazepine, Olanzapine and Fluphenazine injections, which cost Shs30,000 each. Sometimes I access them from Butabika Hospital, but if I fail, my behaviour changes. I become angry and start beating up people,” she said.
Ms Deborah Mudoola, who suffers from bipolar disorder, said her health has deteriorated due to limited or no supply of drugs.
However, Ms Sheila Nduhukire, the National Medical Stores spokesperson, said [drug] procurements are made basing on what the health facilities plan and order.
“Health facilities such as Bugembe planned and ordered for Fluphenazine injection and tablets such as Amitriptyline, Benshexol, Chlorpromazine, Haloperidol and Phenobarbitone, which were supplied once every two months.
“Carbamazepine tablets were supplied at 50 percent while phenytoin tablets weren’t. The combined cycles have stretched the supplies, but we should be able to replenish soon,’’ said Ms Nduhukire, adding that the facility did not plan for Sodium Valproate and Imipramine tablets.