ARVs Crisis Deepens…PLHIV Seek Audience With Finance Minister

PEOPLE living with HIV (PLHIV) will soon be engaging the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development  to plead with government to allocate  foreign currency for procuring Anti Retro Viral Drugs (ARVs), amidst indications that the National Aids Council (NAC) is struggling to make purchases since suppliers are demanding foreign currency.

By Michael Gwarisa

Indications on the ground show that procurement of ARVs medicines has of late been a Sisyphean task at the back of  NAC’s failure to convert the US$ 20 million in RTGS or bond notes stuck in their account into United States Dollars.

Speaking to HealthTimes, HIV activist, Tendai Westerhof said plans were already in place to meet the finance minister to map a way forward regarding the prevailing crisis.

“We are going ahead with our plans to meet the Minister of Finance as planned.  The more the voices the better. NAC indicated that they do not have the forex to procure the treatment but have over $4m in bonds notes which they are failing to use as suppliers demand payment in forex. There are serious implications that are arising and impacting negative on PLHIV on ART.

“We are working on modalities to engage the Minister of Finance on the issue and to push that the required forex is made available to purchase the treatment and that the $4m at NAC is translated as foreign currency since the monetary policy is $1 =1bond note,” said Westerhoff.

PLHIV also bemoaned the lack of transparency which has led to recurring drug shortages.

“In the past years back ,drugs buffer stocks were kept in check as partners continued to replenish supplies .The introduction of the bond note into the country’s fiscus brought distortions to the exchange rate .

“The foreign currency allocation situation further deteriorated in 2017 affecting every sector of the country’s economy,” said another HIV activist.

Meanwhile, the ongoing shortages has forced clients to source the same regimen offered for free in OIC at Private Pharmacies to the cost of $130 for a month’s.

Zimbabwe AIDS Network   (ZAN) director, Taruai Nyandoro said they Will be convening soon with various players in the health sector to deliberate on the prevailing drug crisis.

“The  Zimbabwe  Aids  Network’s  (ZAN)  attention  has  been  drawn  to  the  concerns  raised by  Civil  Society  and  the  PLHIV  sector  on  ART  drugs’  stock  raptures,  which  has  negative ramifications  on  over  one  million  people  on  ART.  Our  understanding  is  that  the situation  is  a  direct  result  of  the  unavailability  of  foreign  currency  for  the  procurement of  ARVs.

“The  entire  health  sector  remains  worried  and  shares  in  the  frustrations  and fears  of  all  and  sundry  who  depend  on  the  public  health  system  to  access  the  life prolonging  treatment,  care  and  support,” said Nyadoro.

He added that, “ ZAN  as  the  civil  society coordinating  platform  on  health  and  a  substantive  member  of  the  Country  Coordinating Mechanism  (CCM)  wishes  to  advise  the  sector  and  all  interested  parties  that  the  CCM  is convening  on  the  7th  of  February  2019,  ostensibly  to  deliberate  on  the  current  ARV status  and  build  consensus  in  the  face  of  deepening  limitations.”

He also called on the  sector  to  continue  using  our  formal  structures  to  share information,  provide  feedback  and  input  on  any  related  developments.


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