First Line ART For Paediatrics Expected Soon

ABACAVIR/LAMIVUDINE, an antiretroviral regimen is expected into the country anytime soon, HealthTimes has learnt.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Since 2013 World Health Organisation(WHO) Guidelines have recommended Abacavir/Lamivudine (ABC/3TC) as the preferred nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI) backbone in first-line ART in children ages 3-10years and as one of two preferred NRTI backbones for first line in infants and children ages 0-3 years.

NatPharm Operations Manager Mr Charles Mwaramba in an interview said, “Last time I heard, we learnt that medicine should arrive.” He however didn’t have the latest update since they have closed their system.
“Im afraid I am in no position to answer that. We have closed the system for now. We don’t procure some medicines as NatPharm. Some of the medicines are procured by donors,” he said.

A highly placed source who spoke to HealthTimes on condition of anonymity said Abacavir availability has been a global challenge.

“Abacavir Lamivudine, we continue to face challenges as far as this particular product is concerned mainly because there has been a global challenge,” he said.

The source said they expect a month’s supply of this medicine.
“We are receiving 33 515 units which is just over a month’s supply. Indications being that they were supposed to be in country on Sunday but we are yet to get them. They are yet to be delivered to NatPharm. We will have to follow that up,” the source added.

Zimbabwean adults living with HIV were reportedly getting antiretroviral medicines meant for pediatrics a sign showing the country was experiencing stockouts.

Addressing a joint sitting of Health and Child Care committee and the Thematic Committee on HIV and AIDS in September, Zimbabwe Young Positives National Coordinator Ms Anna Sango said several health institutions gave adults pediatric drugs such as Abacavir.

“The challenge is that as a substitute to the regimen given to adults, you will find cases of them being given pediatric Abacavir as a sign of shortages of second line regimen,” she said.

She however bemoaned the lack of communication of such changes.

“Clinically it’s possible to do that but the challenge is now when those changes start to happen and there is little communication to people around the issue. It then becomes a challenge. So we want those changes to be communicated to many people living with HIV. These people have the right to know of the substitutes they get and the reasons thereof,” Sango said.

Sango said facilities in Manicaland, Matebeleland, and Mashonaland East were handing out these pediatric ARVs to adults.

“We have a number of facilities like for instance in Mutare giving pediatric drugs, Mutasa, Murehwa District. There are also facilities in Matebeleland giving that. We have Victoria Falls as well is giving abacavir or 3TC2 for adults just because of the shortages. Khami, Nkulumani and Mpilo as well are giving these pediatric drugs,” she said.

Abacavir and lamivudine are medications used to treat HIV. They are antiretroviral drugs combined in one pill. The pill contains 600mg abacavir and 300mg lamivudine. The usual adult dose is one tablet taken once a day along with another antiretroviral drug.

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