NatPharm allays ARVs shortage fears

Natpharm has assured Zimbabweans on second regimen antiretroviral treatment that the current stocks which are low will be expeditiously replenished.

There had been concerns among those who take second line ARVs over the state of the country’s inventory which has been affected by Covid-19.

In an interview, NatPharm board chairperson Dr Billy Rigava said work is already in progress to avoid a crisis.

“What we can tell the country is there is enough medication for those who are already on treatment and they should not panic as the medication will continue to be sourced. The people who manufacture the drugs are known and there is a relationship that just has to be improved to make sure the medication is there.

“So for those who are on line two ARVs which is largely procured by the fiscus, they should not panic as measures have been put in place to ensure we have the required medicines,” Dr Rigava said.

About 1.4 million Zimbabweans are living with HIV and 88 percent are on treament.

An HIV drug regimen has three lines.

The first is taken by most patients, especially those who seek treatment early after infection while the second (which is said to be running low) is more expensive and is given to people who are resistant to the first.

The third line is the most expensive and has harsh side effects.

Last week, the National Aids Council (NAC) confirmed to the country that the country’s second line antiretroviral medication needs urgent replenishment.

NAC chief executive Dr Bernard Madzima told our sister platform Zimpapers Television Network that they are hard at work with other stakeholders to ensure supplies reach a level that allows comfort.

“Regarding the stock status of ARVs, it remains not ideal we still have to make sure we have adequate stocks of the first line and second line drugs as well as paediatric formulations. So National Aids Council, together with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, NatPharm and our development partners, Global Fund and Pepfar we continue to engage to make sure there are stocks in the various health institutions.

Because of the lockdown we are also encouraging our clients to collect drugs for at least three months, so that has also created a shortage added to Covid-19 challenges which has affected logistics,” Dr Madzima said.

Meanwhile, City of Harare has begun a decentralised rollout of medication to people on antiretroviral treatment to minimise movement.

The council’s director of Health Dr Prosper Chonzi said the idea is to ensure that despite the global challenges, people stay on medication.

“We want to reduce defaulting incidences because some of our clinic and hospitals are not fully operational due to strikes by health workers due to factors such as poor remunerations, lack of personal protective equipment, high Covid-19 infections among health workers,” Dr Chonzi said.

Some of the ARVs refill centres include Dzivarasekwa 1 Hall, Mbare Hostel Clinic, GlenNorah 2 High, Warren Park Shops Magamba Hall, Mufakose Space near District Offices, Kuwadzana Extension Open Space, Glen Norah A Community Hall, Kambuzuma Section 2 Council Hall, Pazisengwe Open Ground, Highlands among others.