17 August 2017
THE National Aids Council yesterday downplayed reports that the country has been hit by a shortage of life-saving drugs which has seen people on medication getting just a week’s supply.
Reports were that people living with HIV, who are on a second line drug known as Abacavir, have been getting a week’s supply of drugs after being advised that the country has been hit by an acute shortage.
However, NAC director Tapuwa Magure said the challenge had been resolved and the situation is normalising.
“The matter has been rectified but let me get back to you later with finer details,” said Magure.
A source claimed the shortage had been caused by stock taking at Nat Pharm.
An earlier check at Wilkins Hospital showed that people were getting a week’s supply.
“All those on abacavir will continue to get one week supply of drugs at a time as we are in short supply of the drug.
“This shortage is not just here but it is a national problem,” said a nurse at Wilkins Hospital on Monday.
Zimbabwe has 1, 2 million people living with HIV while over 800 000 people are on anti-retroviral treatment.
The acute shortage might affect the ambitious United Nations Aids Programme (UNAIDS) 90-90-90 targets that seek to end AIDS by 2030.
The 90-90-90 targets seeks to have 90 percent of people tested and knowing their HIV status by 2020 and then have 90 percent that test positive put on anti-retroviral treatment resulting in 90 percent of the people on ART having their load suppressed.
There had been reports that the shortage was caused by a shortage of foreign currency to buy drugs from India.
“I understand the crisis is with the failure to get foreign currency and the companies that supply drugs in India want cash upfront.
“The crisis will worsen if the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe does not prioritise NAC as a priority service that should get foreign currency,” revealed a source from Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV.
People living with HIV have already written to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare about the acute shortage of the lifesaving drug as they fear that this might have severe effects on people on second line drugs.
“In this day of cash crisis, this will mean that people have to shuttle between their homes and health facilities on a weekly basis to get a supply of drugs.
“This can real pose serious challenges as this means those living far from health facilities need money for transport,” said the source.