A shortage of essential drugs has hit major public hospitals across Kenya. The hospitals and health centres do not even have basic drugs for common ailments like colds and flu.
A survey by the Nation in hospitals in major towns established the same trend — patients being referred to private chemists to buy medicine.
On Thursday, at the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital, patients suffering from common ailments were told to buy drugs from chemists.
Ms Catherine Wangui, who had gone to the hospital for the treatment of her one-year-old child, was given only one type of drug out of the four prescribed by the physician. The child was suffering from cold.
But the hospital’s superintendent, Dr Samuel Ngugi, insisted that there was no shortage as essential drugs, like antibiotics and pain killers were in the hospital’s pharmacy.
“We have essential drugs to treat common illnesses. The patients are being asked to buy drugs for serious diseases,” Dr Ngugi said by telephone.
At the Mombasa General Hospital, Mr Vincent Ochieng’ was told to buy the medicine from a private pharmacy after queuing for more than three hours at the hospital pharmacy.
Mr Ochieng’, who has ulcers and other stomach complications, said that he was forced to dig deep into his pockets to get the drugs.“The government should do something to end this shortage,” he said.
Ms Phillis Mwanaisha said her child was admitted to the hospital for three days and she had to spend about Sh3,600 on medicine.
The hospital administrator, Ms Jennifer Othigo, said that she was not aware of the drug shortage. In Molo, most patients treated and discharged or admitted to the sub-district hospital said they are being referred to private chemists in the town to buy drugs.
The medical officer in charge of the district hospital, Dr Magdalene Itumbi, said that there was a shortage of drugs, including malaria and the life-prolonging anti-retrovirals. The recent Molo tanker fire tragedy also exhausted drug stocks at the hospital.