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.