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      Assessing availability, prices, and market share of quality-assured malaria ACT and RDT in the private retail sector in Nigeria and Uganda


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          An estimated 50% of suspected malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa first seek care in the private sector, especially in private medicine retail outlets. Quality of care in these outlets is generally unknown but considered poor with many patients not receiving a confirmatory diagnosis or the recommended first-line artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). In 2010, a subsidy pilot scheme, the Affordable Medicines Facility malaria, was introduced to crowd out the use of monotherapies in favour of WHO-pre-qualified artemisinin-based combinations (WHO-PQ-ACTs) in the private health sector. The scheme improved the availability, market share, and cost of WHO-PQ-ACTs in countries like Nigeria and Uganda, but in 2018, the subsidies were halted in Nigeria and significantly reduced in Uganda. This paper presents findings from six retail audit surveys conducted from 2014 to 2021 in Nigeria and Uganda to assess whether the impact of subsidies on the price, availability, and market share of artemisinin-based combinations has been sustained after the subsidies were reduced or discontinued.


          Six independent retail audits were conducted in private medicine retail outlets, including pharmacies, drug shops, and clinics in Nigeria (2016, 2018, 2021), and Uganda (2014, 2019, 2020) to assess the availability, price, and market share of anti-malarials, including WHO-PQ-ACTs and non-WHO-PQ-ACTs, and malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs).


          Between 2016 and 2021, there was a 57% decrease in WHO-PQ-ACT availability in Nigeria and a 9% decrease in Uganda. During the same period, non-WHO-PQ-ACT availability increased in Nigeria by 41% and by 34% in Uganda. The price of WHO-PQ-ACTs increased by 42% in Nigeria to $0.68 and increased in Uganda by 24% to $0.95. The price of non-WHO-PQ-ACTs decreased in Nigeria by 26% to $1.08 and decreased in Uganda by 64% to $1.23. There was a 76% decrease in the market share of WHO-PQ-ACTs in Nigeria and a 17% decrease in Uganda. Malaria RDT availability remained low throughout.


          With the reduction or termination of subsidies for WHO-PQ-ACTs in Uganda and Nigeria, retail prices have increased, and retail prices of non-WHO-PQ-ACTs decreased, likely contributing to a shift of higher availability and increased use of non-WHO-PQ-ACTs.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s12936-024-04863-9.

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          Monitoring fever treatment behaviour and equitable access to effective medicines in the context of initiatives to improve ACT access: baseline results and implications for programming in six African countries

          Background Access to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) remains limited in high malaria-burden countries, and there are concerns that the poorest people are particularly disadvantaged. This paper presents new evidence on household treatment-seeking behaviour in six African countries. These data provide a baseline for monitoring interventions to increase ACT coverage, such as the Affordable Medicines Facility for malaria (AMFm). Methods Nationally representative household surveys were conducted in Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia between 2008 and 2010. Caregivers responded to questions about management of recent fevers in children under five. Treatment indicators were tabulated across countries, and differences in case management provided by the public versus private sector were examined using chi-square tests. Logistic regression was used to test for association between socioeconomic status and 1) malaria blood testing, and 2) ACT treatment. Results Fever treatment with an ACT is low in Benin (10%), the DRC (5%), Madagascar (3%) and Nigeria (5%), but higher in Uganda (21%) and Zambia (21%). The wealthiest children are significantly more likely to receive ACT compared to the poorest children in Benin (OR = 2.68, 95% CI = 1.12-6.42); the DRC (OR = 2.18, 95% CI = 1.12-4.24); Madagascar (OR = 5.37, 95% CI = 1.58-18.24); and Nigeria (OR = 6.59, 95% CI = 2.73-15.89). Most caregivers seek treatment outside of the home, and private sector outlets are commonly the sole external source of treatment (except in Zambia). However, children treated in the public sector are significantly more likely to receive ACT treatment than those treated in the private sector (except in Madagascar). Nonetheless, levels of testing and ACT treatment in the public sector are low. Few caregivers name the national first-line drug as most effective for treating malaria in Madagascar (2%), the DRC (2%), Nigeria (4%) and Benin (10%). Awareness is higher in Zambia (49%) and Uganda (33%). Conclusions Levels of effective fever treatment are low and inequitable in many contexts. The private sector is frequently accessed however case management practices are relatively poor in comparison with the public sector. Supporting interventions to inform caregiver demand for ACT and to improve provider behaviour in both the public and private sectors are needed to achieve maximum gains in the context of improved access to effective treatment.
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            Drug shop regulation and malaria treatment in Tanzania--why do shops break the rules, and does it matter?

            Regulatory infringements are extremely common in low-income countries, especially with respect to retail pharmaceutical sales. There have been few practical suggestions on public policy responses other than stricter regulatory enforcement, which governments are often unable, or unwilling, to do. This paper explores the challenges of regulating retail drug sellers, and potential solutions, through a case study of malaria treatment in rural Tanzania where small drug shops are a common source of medicine. Infringement of health-related regulation was extremely common. Most stores lacked valid permits, and illegal stocking of prescription-only medicines and unpackaged tablets was the norm. Most stocked unregistered drugs, and no serving staff met the qualification requirements. Infringements are likely to have reflected infrequent regulatory inspections, a failure of regulatory authorities to implement sanctions, successful concealment of regulatory violations, and the tacit permission of local regulatory staff. Eliminating regulatory infringements is unlikely to be feasible, and could be undesirable if access to essential medicines is reduced. Alternatives include bringing official drug regulation closer into line with locally legitimate practices; greater use of positive incentives for providers; and consumer involvement. Such a change in approach has the potential to provide a firmer platform for public-private collaboration to improve shop-based treatment.
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              Piloting the Global Subsidy: The Impact of Subsidized Artemisinin-Based Combination Therapies Distributed through Private Drug Shops in Rural Tanzania

              Background WHO estimates that only 3% of fever patients use recommended artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs), partly reflecting their high prices in the retail sector from where many patients seek treatment. To overcome this challenge, a global ACT subsidy has been proposed. We tested this proposal through a pilot program in rural Tanzania. Methods/Principal Findings Three districts were assigned to serve either as a control or to receive the subsidy plus a package of supporting interventions. From October 2007, ACTs were sold at a 90% subsidy through the normal private supply chain to intervention district drug shops. Data were collected at baseline and during intervention using interviews with drug shop customers, retail audits, mystery shoppers, and audits of public and NGO facilities. The proportion of consumers in the intervention districts purchasing ACTs rose from 1% at baseline to 44.2% one year later (p<0.001), and was significantly higher among consumers purchasing for children under 5 than for adults (p = 0.005). No change in ACT usage was observed in the control district. Consumers paid a mean price of $0.58 for ACTs, which did not differ significantly from the price paid for sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine, the most common alternative. Drug shops in population centers were significantly more likely to stock ACTs than those in more remote areas (p<0.001). Conclusions A subsidy introduced at the top of the private sector supply chain can significantly increase usage of ACTs and reduce their retail price to the level of common monotherapies. Additional interventions may be needed to ensure access to ACTs in remote areas and for poorer individuals who appear to seek treatment at drug shops less frequently. Trial Registration Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN39125414.

                Author and article information

                Malar J
                Malar J
                Malaria Journal
                BioMed Central (London )
                6 February 2024
                6 February 2024
                : 23
                : 41
                [1 ]Clinton Health Access Initiative, Kampala, Uganda
                [2 ]Clinton Health Access Initiative, Abuja, Nigeria
                [3 ]Clinton Health Access Initiative, ( https://ror.org/013mr5k03) Boston, Massachusetts USA
                [4 ]National Malaria Control Division, Ministry of Health, ( https://ror.org/00hy3gq97) Kampala, Uganda
                [5 ]National Malaria Elimination Programme, Abuja, Nigeria
                [6 ]Virginia Commonwealth University, ( https://ror.org/02nkdxk79) Richmond, Virginia USA
                © The Author(s) 2024

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                : 4 August 2023
                : 25 January 2024
                Funded by: Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) of the UK Government
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                © BioMed Central Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2024

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                artemisinin-based combination therapy,private sector,drug shop,clinic,pharmacy


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