Nigeria continues to confront the long-standing issue of malaria, — which afflicts all regions of the country. Despite numerous endeavours to tackle this problem, Nigeria still bears the greatest malaria burden, as confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO). — Moreover, the escalating cost of medicine and healthcare services further compound the challenge posed by this soaring malaria burden in Nigeria. The exorbitant cost of living in Nigeria has far-reaching implications on various aspects of daily existence. Consequently, a multitude of individuals find themselves deeply troubled by the escalating healthcare costs, particularly when it comes to malaria treatment.
The exit of a prominent pharmaceutical company from the nation sparks speculation about a potential shift in the pharmaceutical sector, potentially affecting the affordability and accessibility of essential medications, especially those crucial for combating malaria. Thus, there are concerns that drug prices may rise as the market adapts to this shift. The expenses incurred in treating malaria, such as healthcare consultations, diagnostic tests, and antimalarial drugs, fluctuate depending on the intensity of the disease, the healthcare provider, insurance coverage, and governmental measures.
Prices for Malaria test kits ranges from ₦3,000 to ₦20,000.
Findings reveals that the price range of antimalarial medications — available in the Nigerian market varies greatly, from ₦1,000 to ₦50,000. For instance, Coartem (Artemether/Lumefantrine) 80mg/480mg Tabs x6 costs ₦3,750; P-Alaxin (Dihydroartemisinin/Piperaquine) Tabs x12 costs ₦1,150; Lonart DS 80mg/480mg Tabs x6 costs ₦3,000; Camosunate for adult costs ₦1,200 while for children costs ₦1,000; Giviter ₦725; Amatem Forte (Artemether/Lumefantrine) 80mg/480mg Softgel costs ₦2,200; Amalar (used for prevention of malaria) costs ₦450. Artequick (Artemisinin/Piperaquine) Tabs x4 costs ₦1,600; E mal injection costs ₦1,100.
Also, the prices for Artequin Adult (Artesunate/Mefloquine) 600mg/750mg Tabs x6 and Malanil (Atovaquone/Proguanil) 250mg/100mg Tabs x12 are ₦15,750 and ₦50,000, respectively. Additionally, the cost of diagnostic tests differs depending on the healthcare provider and location. At Oyomesi Specialist Hospital in Orogun, Ibadan, a malaria test is priced at ₦2,000. Conversely, at Purelife Pharmacy in Lagos, a malaria parasite test can be done with ₦3,000. Prices for Malaria test kits differ, spanning a wide range from ₦3,000 to ₦20,000. Specifically, the Fyodor Urine Malaria test kit (x5) costs ₦3,000.
Cost of treating malaria in primary health centres has surged.
One Step Malaria Antigen P.F HRP-II Rapid test (x25) cost ₦15,000 and First Response One Step Malaria Antigen P.F HRP-II Rapid Test (x25) cost ₦20,000. A recent finding revealed that at the Federal Medical Centre in Jabi, Abuja, registered patients are charged ₦3,000 for malaria treatment, whereas unregistered patients are required to pay ₦5,000. The issue of expensive malaria drugs and treatment is not exclusive to Nigerians, as it seems that many others including the government are also strained with this burdensome problem.
Public health centres, where the government offers free treatment for malaria, are also affected by the burden of increasingly expensive medication. This was revealed by Mrs. Patricia Awomozo, the officer responsible for staff clinics and the Director of Nursing Service in Owerri, Imo State, saying that the cost of treating malaria in primary health care (PHC) centres have surged. According to her, the daily cost of treating malaria continuously rises due to the regular administration of antimalarial drugs, which vary depending on the severity of each case.
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She stated that there used to be a program called Roll Back Malaria, where drugs were distributed to individuals at no cost. However, this program has stopped since 2016. Presently, the most economical anti-malaria medication available in the market is Amoxil syrup, priced no lower than ₦1,300. Coartem tablets, a medication effective against both malaria and the common cold, is priced at above ₦1,000, with Paracetamol priced at ₦300. Providing additional insight, Mrs. Awomozo explained that the cost for malaria treatment in children, comprising laboratory tests and drug costs, typically fluctuate between ₦5,000 and ₦6,500. Conversely, adults are anticipated to incur an approximate sum of ₦10,000.