...ARV shortages forces HIV+ adults to take pediatric, expired drugs
The Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+) has urged government to provide funding to the National AIDS Council (Nac) in foreign currency in order to stem the rampant shortage of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).
There have been many media reports recently to the effect that HIV and Aids medication was in critically short supply, with health facilities at times dispensing expired drugs or children’s drugs to adults.
Speaking during the national commemorations of the World Aids Day held at Mucheke Stadium, Evelyn Chamisa, who works in the communication department of ZNNP+, said Nac was failing to procure ARVs due to the unavailability of adequate foreign currency.
"The drugs are supposed to be bought by Nac using money raised through the Aids levy but they do not have foreign currency. Government is failing to avail forex for the procurement of the anti-retrovirals. As people living with HIV, we fear an increase in cases of defaulting caused by shortages of the medicine.
“Due to the unavailability of HIV second-line drugs adults are now forced to take pediatric drugs. We have also some cases in some provinces where people are given expired drugs. Our question to the government is what will be the after-effects of taking expired drugs, kids dosages and single dosages. The government should make sure the Nac trust fund is built on forex to tackle the problem," said Chamisa.
She said they engaged the government through the parliament in September but nothing had materialized.
In his speech at the commemorations, the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo admitted that procurement of adequate ARVs was being hindered by economic challenges being experienced in the country.
"Funding for the response remains a major challenge as we grapple with an economic setback occasioned by poor productivity and critically low levels of foreign currency. I have been informed that the National Aids Council collects millions of dollars but have challenges in accessing foreign currency to procure critical HIV and drugs used to treat non-communicable diseases. I am therefore appealing to government to prioritise the allocation of foreign currency to Nac so as to ensure that we do not delay buying the requirements," said Moyo.
This year’s World AIDS day commemorations ran under the theme “Communities Make the Difference".