PEOPLE Living With HIV have resorted to buying Antiretroviral drugs from neighboring Zambia amidst fears of developing side effects from the expired stocks currently being dispensed in some health institutions.
By Kudakwashe Pembere & Michael Gwarisa
This is despite the assurance from the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) that the medicines have been tested and certified safe for consumption by people living with HIV.
Speaking to HealthTimes on the sidelines of a march against ARV stock-outs, Gumisai Bonzo a women living with HIV said they have organised groups to facilitate procuring ARVs from neighboring Zambia where the ARVs are believed to be affordable and within their shelf-life.
“What we have done as support groups for people living with HIV, we have suggested that instead of buying food why don’t we collect money for the medication and buy them from Zambia,” said Bhonzo.
She however said bringing the drugs to Zimbabwe was not an easy task as the stocks are at times confiscated at the boarders.
“Of which should the person buy the medication they will or might be confiscated at the border. Zvatovharana.
“In Zambia a three months’ supply of ARVs is worth a month’s supply in Zimbabwe. So we are pleading with the Government to fulfill the commitment of USD6 million towards G.F. we need to have these medications bought for us. In Zambia a three months supply costs USD65 whereas in Zimbabwe, that buys you a month’s supply,” said Bhonzo.
She also complained that they are being forced to take drugs that expired on June 30 and some hospitals were only giving out two weeks supply of ARVs.
“So what brings us here is that from last month after getting expired drugs, an issue was raised among the different support groups we have that they were getting one month’s supply of ARVs, some are getting two weeks supply. Upon interrogating the reason behind stopping the three months’ supply routine to avoid transport fares, they were told the facilities are running out of medication.
“So they were now being given in minute quantities for others not to be left out. We also asked of the recently announced DTG to be rolled out in August, they said it is not available but the shortage of ARVs is real. We even phoned an Edith Opperman facility and was told they were giving one month supply of ARVs and have started giving DTG. They said maybe they would start in August. It’s the same thing at Newlands of getting expired drugs. Other facilities like Parirenyatwa are giving out one months supply,” she said.
Zambia has already launched a new HIV drug called Tenofovir Alafenamide (TAF). TAF is co-formulated with Emtricitabine and Dolutegravir as one tablet known as TAFED. The newly launched regimen suppresses the viral load within 10 to 14 days and it can also be given to children of 25 kilogrammes and above, as a single tablet daily.
Meanwhile, Health and Child Care minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo told journalists on Friday that Government health facilities were fairly stocked and there was no need to worry about shortage of ARVs.
“For first line we have got over 80 percent patient coverage. We have adequate stocks to cover for 80 percent of our patients that is for the first line. That is the most commonly used. And for the second line we have got which normally covers a small percentage we have got adequate stocks in all our facilities there is enough supplies. And the third line which most of the patients hardly get to, there is massive quantities.
“And the other thing is that the payments are going to be done. So once the payments are done. As for the timeline, I don’t want to give them that much pressure because I am giving them that pressure by this statement. I know that it is already approved for payment. That is what I can say,” said minister Moyo.