Government Allays ARVs Shortage Fears

Government has assured the nation that the country has enough stocks of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), with the available supplies enough to last the next 10 months. Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa allayed fears that Zimbabwe might run out of the life-prolonging drugs last Friday after touring the construction site of a new NatPharm provincial warehouse in Masvingo. It is estimated that the country has over 1,1 million people on ARV therapy. Dr Parirenyatwa said Zimbabwe had sufficient stocks of both first-line and second-line ARVs.

“I want to make it clear that we have enough stocks of ARV drugs to last us the next 10 months and these drugs include both first-line and second-line, so at the moment we have enough,” he said.

He implored people on ART to religiously take their drugs.

“They must not skip taking their drugs. They need to be taken religiously, skipping is not good because the patient will become resistant to drugs and will end up requiring second-line drugs that are more expensive,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.

He said Zimbabwe’s ability to import drugs was being frustrated by foreign currency shortages. Dr Parirenyatwa noted that ARV drugs were an exception since they were procured using funds from the Global Fund. He said Government wanted to expand NatPharm’s capacity to store drugs in all parts of Zimbabwe, with new and bigger warehouses under construction in Harare, Mutare and Masvingo.

Funding for the projects was availed by the Global Fund. In Harare, NatPharm is building a $23 million warehouse, while in Masvingo the new warehouse is being built by a Chinese contractor at a cost of $3,5 million. The Masvingo Natpharm warehouse will have about 3 000 pallets, making it nearly six times bigger than the old building that has 500 pallets.

The warehouse is expected to be complete by April next year. Dr Parirenyatwa tasked Government officials in Masvingo to make sure there were sufficient stocks of diesel to ensure construction of the new warehouse was not affected. Contractors at the site told Dr Parirenyatwa that fuel shortages were affecting progress, with most retailers in the city demanding cash for the commodity.

Progress at the warehouse was also being affected by forex shortages for importing steel rods, which are no longer locally available.

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