Access to quality-assured artemisinin-based combination therapy and associated factors among clients of selected private drug outlets in Uganda


Malar J. 2024 Apr 30;23(1):128. doi: 10.1186/s12936-024-04956-5.


BACKGROUND: Malaria treatment in sub-Saharan Africa is faced with challenges including unreliable supply of efficacious agents, substandard medicines coupled with high price of artemisinin-based combinations. This affects access to effective treatment increasing risk of malaria parasite resistance development and adverse drug events. This study investigated access to quality-assured artemisinin-based combination therapy (QAACT) medicines among clients of selected private drug-outlets in Uganda.

METHODS: This was a cross sectional study where exit interviews were conducted among clients of private drug outlets in low and high malaria transmission settings in Uganda. This study adapted the World Health Organization/Health Action International (WHO/HAI) standardized criteria. Data was collected using a validated questionnaire. Data entry screen with checks was created in Epi-data ver 4.2 software and data entered in duplicate. Data was transferred to STATA ver 14.0 and cleaned prior to analysis. The analysis was done at 95% level of significance.

RESULTS: A total of 1114 exit interviews were conducted among systematically sampled drug outlet clients. Over half, 54.9% (611/1114) of the participants were males. Majority, 97.2% (1083/1114) purchased an artemisinin-based combination anti-malarial. Most, 55.5% (618/1114) of the participants had a laboratory diagnosis of malaria. Majority, 77.9% (868/1114) of the participants obtained anti-malarial agents without a prescription. Less than a third, 27.7% (309/1114) of the participants obtained a QAACT. Of the participants who obtained QAACT, more than half 56.9% (173/309) reported finding the medicine expensive. The predictors of accessing a QAACT anti-malarial among drug outlet clients include type of drug outlet visited (aPR = 0.74; 95%CI 0.6, 0.91), not obtaining full dose (3-day treatment) of ACT (aPR = 0.49; 95%CI 0.33, 0.73), not finding the ACT expensive (aPR = 1.24; 95%CI 1.03, 1.49), post-primary education (aPR = 1.29; 95%CI 1.07,1.56), business occupation (aPR = 1.24; 95%CI 1.02,1.50) and not having a prescription (aPR = 0.76; 95%CI 0.63, 0.92).

CONCLUSION: Less than a third of the private drug outlet clients obtained a QAACT for management of malaria symptoms. Individuals who did not find artemisinin-based combinations to be expensive were more likely to obtain a QAACT anti-malarial. The Ministry of Health needs to conduct regular surveillance to monitor accessibility of QAACT anti-malarial agents under the current private sector copayment mechanism.

PMID:38689257 | DOI:10.1186/s12936-024-04956-5