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J Glob Health. 2013 Dec;3(2):020405. doi: 10.7189/jogh.03.020405.

Availability, prices and affordability of essential medicines in Haiti.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco, Cal., USA ; Haiti Initiative, University of California, San Francisco, Cal., USA.
2
Haiti Initiative, University of California, San Francisco, Cal., USA.
3
Clinical Pharmacy and Health Policy, University of California, San Francisco, Cal., USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and faces numerous challenges, including inadequate medication access for its residents. The objective of this study was to determine the availability, prices, and affordability of essential medicines in Haiti and compare these findings to other countries.

METHODS:

We conducted a cross-sectional nationwide survey in 2011 of availability and consumer prices of 60 essential medicines in Haiti using a standardized methodology developed by the World Health Organization and Health Action International. The survey was conducted in 163 medicine outlets in four health care sectors (public, retail, nonprofit and mixed sectors). Medicine prices were expressed as ratios relative to the International Reference Price. Affordability was calculated by comparing the costs of treatment for common conditions with the salary of the lowest paid government worker and was compared to available data from four Latin American countries.

RESULTS:

For generic medicines, the availability in public, retail, nonprofit and mixed sectors was 20%, 37%, 24% and 23% of medications, respectively. Most of the available medicines were priced higher than the International Reference Price. The lowest paid government worker would need 2.5 days' wages to treat an adult respiratory infection with generic medicines from the public sector. For treatment of common conditions with originator brands (OB) purchased from a retail pharmacy, costs were between 1.4 (anaerobic bacterial infection) and 13.7 (hyperlipidemia) days' wages, respectively. Treatment of pediatric bacterial infections with the OB of ceftriaxone from a retail pharmacy would cost 24.6 days' wages. Prices in Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua were frequently lower for comparable medications.

CONCLUSIONS:

The availability of essential medicines was low and prices varied widely across all four sectors. Over 75% of Haitians live on less than US$ 2.00 /day; therefore, most medication regimens are largely unaffordable. Inclusion of essential medications on the national formulary and working with organizations responsible for importing medications into Haiti, particularly drug donation agencies, are important first steps to increasing medication access.

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