Availability, price, and affordability of essential medicines to manage noncommunicable diseases: A national survey from Nepal

Saval Khanal, Lennert Veerman, Margaret Ewen, Lisa Nissen, Samantha Hollingworth

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the availability, price, and affordability of essential noncommunicable disease (NCD) medicines in Nepal. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Nepal in 2015 using World Health Organization/Health Action International (WHO/HAI) methodology. We collected data on the availability and price of 60 essential NCD medicines from medicine distribution outlets in both the public and private health care sectors in 6 regions. Essential NCD medicines were more available in the private sector (78%) than the public sector (60%). Furosemide tablets were the cheapest (NPR 0.6/10 tablets) and streptokinase injections were the most expensive (NPR 2200/vial) drugs. There was no significant difference (P > .05) in availability and affordability of essential NCD medicines across the 6 survey areas. Treating selected NCD conditions with medicines was generally affordable, with 1 month of treatment costing no more than a day’s wage of the lowest paid unskilled government worker. The lower availability of NCD medicines in the public sector limits the effectiveness of the government’s policy of providing free health services at public facilities. Although NCD medicines were generally affordable, future health policy should aim to ensure improved equitable access to NCD medicines, particularly in public facilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalINQUIRY: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2019

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