A new study has shown that availability of essential drugs for treatment of childhood cancers was well below the World Health Organisation (WHO)-prescribed standards in both public and private sector pharmacies even in the national capital, Delhi.
The survey looked into availability of 33 essential anti-cancer medicines in four public and three private hospitals as well as 32 private retail pharmacies. It was found that their mean availability was a mere 70 per cent as against the WHO’s norm of at least 80 per cent.
The situation was, however, somewhat better in private hospitals over public hospitals and private retail pharmacies. Private hospitals recorded availability of 71 per cent, while public hospitals reported 43 per cent and retail pharmacies 38 per cent.
The study has also found problem with prices of drugs. Medicine prices were relatively low in Delhi compared with international reference prices. However, even at a lower price the medicines were unaffordable for a vast section of society. The lowest cost of chemotherapy for treating a 30 kg child with standard risk leukaemia was Rs. 27,850 and for a child with early stage Hodgkin’s lymphoma was Rs.17,500.
“Low availability and poor affordability of anti-cancer essential medicines highlight the need to streamline public sector and private sector medicine procurement and supply systems,’ said Neha Faruqui of the George Institute for Global Health, and a member of the research team.
The study has been published in journal BMJ Global Health. The study team included researchers from The George Institute for Global Health, University of Sydney, Cankids India, Max Super Speciality Hospital and Boston University School of Public Health. (India Science Wire)