Zim Wont Be Adopting New ARVs Soon- Minister

HEALTH and Child Care minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa says Zimbabwe wont be stampeded into adopting new Anti Retro Viral drugs (ARVs) by the donor community, HealthTimes has learnt.

By Michael Gwarisa

His response comes at a time when most countries in the high HIV burden zones are moving towards embracing new ARV drugs which bring convenience and comfort to people living with HIV. At an international scale, a number of new ARV drugs are being rolled out with some African countries such as Kenya and South Africa having already agreed to adopting new drugs pending the introduction of a new drug which will be taken once every week.

Speaking at a reception ceremony for Baron, Professor Peter Piot, Dr Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe was not going to blindly follow other countries in terms of adopting new HIV drugs.

“We have had very huge sharp decline in HIV, now as we speak we have got 1.2 million people who are on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) that is very good. Our biggest weakness before was that we did not have strong pediatric formulations and this has now improved.

“As we go to new drugs which are  being advanced through PEPFAR, please bear in mind that we will take them on board at our time so that we don’t get  stampeded into taking new medicines. We do it systematically with nice support from our donors and at our own pace,” said Dr Parirenaytwa.

According to reports, Scientists in the United States have conducted trials of  new ARVs that will see a patient taking one drug per week and it will contain enough medicine to last that period. This means that drug intake will be reduced from 30 to just four per month.

However, director Aids and TB unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Owen Mugurungi was recently quoted in the SundayMail saying the move was a step in the right direction.

“Once completed and approved we will be more than glad to embrace these new ARVs because it improves adherence to medication which has been a challenge in the country and beyond,” he said.

He said most people who defer on HIV treatment was because of pill burden which would have increased. He said some patients have the dilemma of being on ARVs, blood pressure, diabetes and tuberculosis drugs at one go, so there was a tendency to default treatment or have poor adherence.

Meanhwile, a new high quality HIV treatment therapy  and pricing regime which will accelerate availability of first affordable, generic, single-pill HIV treatment regime containing doulutegravir (DTG) will soon be launched in South Africa and Kenya before being distributed to other 90 low income countries around the world.

The single-pill HIV treatment will be available to public sector purchasers in at around US$75 per person, per year.

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said, “This agreement will improve the quality of life for millions of people living with HIV.


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