At Agape Drug Shop, Kitgum General Hospital Private Ward and Kitgum Maternity and medical Center, pharmacists who didn’t want their names mentioned so as to speak freely, said they didn’t restock Chloroquine due to the high price
Most private health facilities in Kitgum
Municipality have failed to increase on their stock of Chloroquine because of
exorbitant prices in pharmacies across the region.
Until recently, Chloroquine has been widely
available and would cost Shillings 200 and Shillings 300 in health facilities
in the district. However, a survey conducted by Uganda Radio Network on
Wednesday found that Chloroquine has
run out in most health facilities in Kitgum Municipality.
The price of Chloroquine has risen by almost six times. At Rubangangeyo Pharmacy, in Central Division, a
tablet of Chloroquine now costs Shillings 2,000 from Shillings 300 previously. A
pharmacist at the facility told Uganda Radio Network that the abnormal price
hike was caused by the high prices of Chloroquine from their suppliers in
She says their last stock of 100 tablets cost
them Shillings 250,000, yet earlier it would only cost around Shillings 25,000.
“The price of chloroquine has shot up recently especially during this Corona
virus pandemic. We are now buying expensively from suppliers so we are forced
to sell expensively to get profits,” she said.
Health officials in some of the private health
facilities, say the high prices have rendered them unable to purchase the drugs
for resale to vulnerable patients within the community. At Agape Drug Shop, Kitgum General Hospital
Private Ward and Kitgum Maternity and medical Center, pharmacists who didn’t
want their names mentioned so as to speak freely, said they didn’t restock Chloroquine
due to the high price.
They say the abnormally high prices make it impossible
to sell the drug to their patients yet there are other cheaper and more
effective malarial drugs.
Why are their prices so high?
Dr. Pamela Atim Okot, the Medical Director St
Joseph’s Hospital Kitgum confirmed the increased demand for Chloroquine from
pharmacies and drug shops. She attributes the high demand emerging reports from
scientists that there is possibility that Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine
could be useful in the management of corona virus disease.
She however, says there no
scientific reports on the effectiveness of the drugs to manage Covid19 and warned
locals against purchasing the drug without prescription from doctors.
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She advised Pharmacists to avoid selling
chloroquine to locals without prescription.
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Robert Ocakacon, a trader in Kitgum Municipality,
says that he bought 10 tablets of chloroquine from a pharmacy at Shillings
30,000 last week. Ocakacon says he was compelled to make the purchase because
of reports that chloroquine can help to treat symptoms and limit the spread of
“I have not yet swallowed the drug because I’m
still waiting for scientific reports and the Health Ministry to confirm that it
can cure Covid-19. I am sure the price will go up and many people won’t even
afford it anymore,” he told Uganda Radio Network in an interview.
Dr. Geoffrey Okello, the Acting Medical
Superintendent Kitgum General Hospital warned locals against purchasing
medicine without prescription during the district covid-19 task force meeting
on Tuesday. He advised locals to instead consume and drink
more fruits to help boost their immunity rather resorting to self-medication using
The health ministry is currently using hydroxychloroquine, a much
stable malarial drug as treatment for patients recovering from Covid19. Efforts
to get a comment from Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the Senior Health Ministry
spokesperson were futile as he didn’t answer our phone call.
Currently, there is no specific medicine
recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent or treat coronavirus. Currently
has since registered 55 confirmed COVID-19 cases. However, 12 patients have
since recovered and been discharged.