Health group concerned as ARV crisis hits Zimbabwe

Charles Lotara

Harare (ZIMBABWE)- The Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) had expressed concern over the current shortage of life-saving anti-retroviral drugs in the country’s public health institutions, describing it as a serious health ramification for people living with HIV/AIDs.

Zimbabwe has made tremendous gains in reducing HIV/AIDs related deaths over the year through multi-sectoral efforts but the group says it is disheartening that the country is now experiencing a serious shortage of Abacavir – a second line ARV drug to the extent that people taking the drugs are only being given a week’s supply instead of the usual three months provision.

Itai Rusike, the Executive Director of the Community Working Group on Health revealed that there are about 35000 people on the Abacavir ARV second line treatment drugs in Zimbabwe.

According to the official press statement, the weekly supply of the drugs will force people to commute regularly to their usual collection points thereby incurring heavy out-of-pocket costs, a situation most people will not afford under the current harsh economic environment.

The group said, “It is professionally unacceptable the situation was allowed to deteriorate to these levels when the country has the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and National AIDs Council (NAC), institutions that jointly superintend over the procurement and distribution of the live-saving drugs.”

The report also hinted that, low level of staffing at primary health care unit is one of the factors affecting drugs availability.
“There are number of factors affecting drug availability. It appears that at primary care level the quality of staffing, expertise and resources is currently too low to provide for the basic requirements of a drug procurement and management system,” part of the report reads.

According to CWGH, government spending on health had declined in real terms and is currently concentrated hospitals, particularly at central level.

As an organization whose primary focus is the enjoyment of quality equitable health services, CWGH urged the government to quickly avail foreign currency for the procurement of ARVs to save thousands of lives that are under threat.


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