A Closer Look at Access to Essential Medicines in South Sudan

By Danélia Botes

January 7, 2024

The Crucial Role of Medicines in Healthcare

When it comes to medical care and access to essential medicines in South Sudan, medicines are an essential component. Essential medicines play a crucial role in reducing morbidity and mortality rates from acute and chronic diseases. Meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires comprehensive research and policy implementation to ensure easy access to these medicines. A global commitment is necessary to address gaps in healthcare access and pharmaceutical supply chains. This commitment will support the World Health Organization’s goal of achieving 80% availability by 2025. A human right is the right to have access to medications that are safe, effective, of high quality, and inexpensive. The reality, however, is very different from this ideal in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), where access to medicines is frequently hindered by issues such as a lack of availability and an unaffordable price.

The Status Quo in South Sudan

Despite its efforts to boost its healthcare system since gaining independence, South Sudan faces numerous issues. Protracted violence, poverty, inefficient pharmaceutical supply management, an inadequately skilled workforce, lack of infrastructure, and climate change effects impede progress. The country has set up the Emergency Medications Fund (EMF) to improve the provision of essential drugs and high-quality medical services. The South Sudan Ministry of Health and other organisations collaborated to develop this fund. But difficulties still exist, particularly with regard to gaining access to essential medicines in South Sudan.

Investigating Medicine Prices, Availability, and Affordability

Researchers conducted a study in Juba County, South Sudan, to determine the pricing, availability, and affordability of essential drugs. They aimed to gauge the progress of the nation in enhancing the accessibility and affordability of its medical facilities. The study revealed inadequate availability of pharmaceuticals across all investigated sectors. The public sector showed an average availability of only 50.4%. The study found only 0.07% of the examined drugs affordable, declaring the majority as unaffordable due to high pricing.

Perspectives on the Future and Recommendations

The findings of the study on access to essential medicines in South Sudan led to the formulation of a number of conclusions and suggestions. Among these are the implementation of regulations that regulate prices, particularly in the private sector, the enhancement of funds for the health sector, and the expansion of the availability of medicines in the public sector. These findings can serve as substantial evidence for policymakers to use when formulating policies that will limit prices, boost the supply of medicines and make them more affordable, strengthen the public health system, and reorganise the pharmaceutical sector in South Sudan.

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