Health Reporter | The Herald
Government has reverted to giving people on antiretroviral drugs three months’ supplies following improvement in the national drug stocks, a senior health official has said.
Previously, people were getting between one week and one month drug supplies as a result of depletion of the national drug stock. Head of AIDS and Tuberculosis in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare Dr Owen Mugurungi said Government was now looking at introducing at least three-months buffer stock at clinic level.
“Our ARV drug stocks have now reached a satisfactory level and some patients have since started getting three-months drug supplies as they previously used to do.
“We have not yet covered the whole country but we expect every centre to revert to this previous arrangement in a few weeks from now,” said Dr Mugurungi.
He said the reason why Government has not yet covered the whole country is because the centres have not yet re-stocked.
“We are now looking at clinics being able to have drugs that can last at least three months in their pharmacy as buffer stock,” he said.
This development was necessitated largely through funding from the AIDS Levy and the Global Fund.
Towards the end of last year, the Global Fund availed US$84 million to Zimbabwe, part of which was meant for creation of a buffer stock of six months at national level of ARVs for all 480 000 adults on treatment in the country.
Creation of a buffer stock was necessitated by a series of drug shortages, which hit the country between June and December last year.
The shortages also prompted the National AIDS Council to commit at least 70 percent of AIDS Levy towards ARV procurement instead of the previous 50 percent to boost the depleted national drug stocks.
The chairperson of (the) Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (ZNNP+) Mr. Sebastian Chinhaire concurred that there has been an improvement in ARVs for people taking first line.
He however, said people taking second line drugs are still getting one week supplies instead of the three months.
“We are still receiving complaints from our members especially those on second line. Just last week, a member called saying they were given drugs enough to last one week at a clinic in Harare,” he said.
Mr Chinhaire further said the problem of cotrimoxazole — an antibiotic used to prevent opportunistic infections seem to be permanent now.
“We believe these shortages are as a result of inefficiency at hospitals and clinics because at national level we are told there are enough drugs in stock but we still face challenges at the ground,” he said.