Access to artemisinin-combination therapy (ACT) and other anti-malarials: national policy and markets in Sierra Leone.PLoS One. 2012; 7(10):e47733.Plos
Malaria remains the leading burden of disease in post-conflict Sierra Leone. To overcome the challenge of anti-malarial drug resistance and improve effective treatment, Sierra Leone adopted artemisinin-combination therapy artesunate-amodiaquine (AS+AQ) as first-line treatment for uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria. Other national policy anti-malarials include artemether-lumefantrine (AL) as an alternative to AS+AQ, quinine and artemether for treatment of complicated malaria; and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) for intermittent preventive treatment (IPTp). This study was conducted to evaluate access to national policy recommended anti-malarials. A cross-sectional survey of 127 medicine outlets (public, private and NGO) was conducted in urban and rural areas. The availability on the day of the survey, median prices, and affordability policy and available non-policy anti-malarials were calculated. Anti-malarials were stocked in 79% of all outlets surveyed. AS+AQ was widely available in public medicine outlets; AL was only available in the private and NGO sectors. Quinine was available in nearly two-thirds of public and NGO outlets and over one-third of private outlets. SP was widely available in all outlets. Non-policy anti-malarials were predominantly available in the private outlets. AS+AQ in the public sector was widely offered for free. Among the anti-malarials sold at a cost, the same median price of a course of AS+AQ (US$1.56), quinine tablets (US$0.63), were found in both the public and private sectors. Quinine injection had a median cost of US$0.31 in the public sector and US$0.47 in the private sector, while SP had a median cost of US$0.31 in the public sector compared to US$ 0.63 in the private sector. Non-policy anti-malarials were more affordable than first-line AS+AQ in all sectors. A course of AS+AQ was affordable at nearly two days' worth of wages in both the public and private sectors.