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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 45-55

Access to diabetes medicines at the household level in eight counties of Kenya

1 Department of Global Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
2 School of Public Health, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Veronika J Wirtz
Crosstown Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Room CT-363, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02118
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jod.jod_32_17

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Background: In 2016, an estimated 872,000 Kenyans were living with diabetes, a country average of 4%. The study objectives were (1) to describe the sociodemographic and geographic characteristics of the households with individuals diagnosed and on treatment for diabetes (2) to describe the medicines available at the household level, monthly household expenditure on medicines, location of diagnosis and treatment and the associated factors of medicines purchase location. Methods: A household survey in eight countries was conducted asking whether a household member had been diagnosed and treated for a non-communicable disease (NCD). Households with at least one member with diabetes were included in this study. Results: Out of the 142 individuals being diagnosed and treated for diabetes, 68 participants (47.9%) were prescribed single and 74 (52.1%) multiple treatments. While 54.9% of the participants were diagnosed at public hospitals, 50% of individuals purchased their medicines from a private pharmacy/chemist or private hospitals. Purchase of medicines in public facilities was associated with being less wealthy and having more than one NCD. Having medicines not available at home was reported by 26.1% of individuals, mostly because the medicines were too expensive to buy. Conclusions: Affordability of diabetes medicines remains an important barrier to access. In addition, essential medicine list restrictions to offer diabetes medicines at public primary care level limit access. Programs to increase access to NCD medicines need to consider that diagnosis and choice of treatment occurs largely in the public sector whereas medicines purchase most frequently takes place in the private sector.

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