In Uganda, people with sickle cell disease face a difficult situation. Their medications are very expensive, and even though the government negotiated lower prices in July 2023, it’s still a big problem.
Each year, over 15,000 babies in Uganda are born with sickle cell disease. This is a serious health issue.
But, getting the medicine they need is tough. The cost is high, especially when the average monthly income in Uganda is 600,000 Ugandan Shillings.
If you live in the rural areas of Uganda, it’s even harder. Most places where you can get the medicine are in the cities, so people from far away have to spend more money to travel there.
Ruth Edith Ikilai, who is dealing with this problem, says, “Even government hospitals near us don’t have the medicine because it’s too expensive.”
Dr. Sara Lucas, who reviews medical research, explains why sickle cell medicine costs so much. She says the process of making and approving the drug is expensive. The price should match how good the medicine is and where it’s made. It has to meet certain standards, or it won’t be approved. The ten years it takes to approve a drug also makes it more expensive.
There’s also a lack of accurate information about the disease. Even in hospitals, doctors and nurses may not know how to treat sickle cell patients correctly, which makes things worse.
Many parents are in a tough spot. They don’t make much money and can’t afford the medicine. So, they have to wait and watch their children suffer.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough policies in Uganda to help sickle cell patients like there are for HIV and diabetes, according to Musiimenta Euniky from the Uganda Sickle Cell Rescue Foundation. She says there’s only a sickle cell clinic, and they don’t have enough medicine. In simple terms, there aren’t enough rules to support the patients.
People with sickle cell disease in Uganda want things to change. They want a future where they can afford the medicine they need.
As Uganda moves forward, it’s important to make sure that everyone, no matter their genes, can get the medicine they need to live healthy lives.
The fight against sickle cell disease continues, but with everyone’s help, we can make things better and more affordable.