Govt’s fight against HIV/AIDS under threat over looming drug shortages

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

Reports of the looming Anti-Retroviral (ARVs) drugs and condom shortages have cast doubt on the government’s capacity to treat and prevent  HIV/AIDS.

Recently, government through the permanent secretary in the ministry of health and child care, Gerald Gwinji,  revealed   that the   country likely to face ARV shortages this year and next year.

Another report has suggested that there will be a condom crisis in the country threatening efforts to reduce HIV transmission.

Speaking to Radio VOP, an HIV/AIDS activist said the ARV drug shortage has already taken a toll on most people living with the virus as some drugs for those on first line drugs are already scarce.

“We have some ARV drugs that are already not accessible as the National Aids Council (NAC) is failing to source the drugs due to lack of foreign currency so most of  the people who are on first line treatment have been affected,” revealed Mr Charles Kautare , director of The Treatment, Health, Advocacy and Activists Trust(THAAT).

He went on to urge government to intervene   expeditiously   to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Another HIV/AIDS patient who is on ARV treatment also expressed her concern on the antiquated CD4 machines which she says are important in assessing disease progression.

“One of our main worry has been the continued malfunction of the CD4 machines which help in   the monitoring   of the disease   and detecting the risk of opportunistic infections, ”  bemoaned   the patient who only identified herself as Mai Rose.

The Aids and Arts Foundation(TAAF)director Emmanuel Gasa told said that while there  is the looming shortage of ARV there is still a huge number of people who are still failing to access the life-prolonging drugs  in many marginalised areas.

“We are still concerned with the fact that we still have many people who are not on ART (antiretroviral therapy ) because they are located in areas where it is hardly accessible to travel to and from health care centres to  start treatment,” said Gasa.

The disease also require nutritional  support  to maintain the immune system and only non-governmental organisations like FACT and CARE have been handy in providing supplements to HIV/AIDS patients.

There have   also been allegations against National Aids Council   of misappropriation of the Aids levy  without  procuring  medicines and reagent.

According to the ministry of health and child care, nearly 1,3 million  people are on ARV treatment  with an uptake of around 8 000 new clients per month.