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NO ROOM FOR SHORTAGES

By Deputy Editor / Published on Monday, 27 Jun 2016 20:39 PM / No Comments / 480 views

27 June 2016

FALSE reports that the country will run short of anti-retroviral drugs by September are dangerous and can cause unnecessary panic.

The circulation of such unfounded reports can lead to corrupt trading of the drugs and cause stakeholders unnecessary anxiety.

The National AIDS Council have stated that the country has enough anti-retroviral drugs to last the next 12 months procured by the Global fund, PEPFAR and the national aids trust funds and the September shortage news are just lies.

As the country is working to achieve the 2014 United Nations programme on HIV and AIDS new global targets called the 90-90-90 – which means that 90 percent of people living with HIV and AIDS should know their status, 90 percent of those who are diagnosed positive should be on sustained treatment and 90 percent of those on medication must have undetectable viral load by 2030 – and there is no room for ARV drugs shortage with this target in mind.

Shortage of ARVs are likely to make Aids patients switch to drug combinations which compromise their and this is dangerous as mixing different regimens can eventually make the virus drug resistant.

This (shortage of anti-retrovirals) has happened to other African countries like Uganda, Kenya and South Africa and the results have – almost always – been regrettable.

In Kenya, amid repeated government reassurances (which usually happens when reports of shortages occur), there was a shortage of ARVs a few years ago leading to protests that were aimed against the government with claims that less than 400 000 of the 1,4 million people infected with HIV/Aids had access to the drugs.

The protesters’ most logical complaint – which applies to Africa as a whole and Zimbabwe in particular – was that over 20 years since the first HIV cases were reported in the country, donors still fund 85 per cent of all treatment.

Although the percentage of dependence may be less in Zimbabwe, this reliance on donors leaves the country, and Africa in general, at the mercy of the countries in control of these donor organizations. As a country we should have found a backup plan in the event that funding for ARVs dwindles or is withdrawn altogether.
In Zimbabwe for example this would equate to tragedy for the hundreds of thousands of people who are offered ARVs by the government for treatment of Aids and HIV.
The disbursement of money for ARVs from the Global Fund is something beyond Zimbabwe’s control and – in the event that the process is delayed or flawed – the responsible stakeholders should have a fall back plan.

According to the World Health Organisation, drug interruption is among the chief causes of treatment failure among Aids patients and all caution must be taken to avoid this.

Good programme management – especially as far as the disbursement of the drugs to the patients – is key to managing the HIV/Aids scourge.

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