‘Zimbabwe says has adequate ARVs in stock’

THE National Aids Council (Nac) has said the country has adequate stocks of ARVs to last up to the end of the year.

The council said those collecting ARVs must be given at least three months’ supply of drugs at collection centres so that no one defaults.

Provisions are also in place to ensure that Zimbabweans in quarantine centres after returning from other countries continue getting medication in the country to maintain the gains achieved so far in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

To reach out to people in the face of travel restrictions due to the threat of Covid-19, Nac has mobile clinics going into communities to distribute ARVs, condoms, birth control pills and conduct HIV tests.

In an interview in Gweru yesterday, NAC chief executive officer Dr Bernard Madzima said there is no need for people to panic over the availability of ARVs, condoms and birth control pills because the items needed for the year had been purchased. He said ARVs had been placed in warehouses in provinces for easy distribution to health centres.

“We normally buy per season; so, as we programme, what we do is to keep these drugs either at central level or at NatPharm or at regional warehouses. What we have done is to move them to regional warehouses. Procurement for 2020 had already been done and the focus is now on 2021 so that we make sure that there is no gap. Those discussions are happening at the moment so that we don’t run out of stocks for 2021 because we don’t know for how long Covid-19 will be with us,” said Dr Madzima.

He said Nac had addressed challenges faced by clients in travelling to collection centres to get their drugs during the lockdown by engaging the authourities. Dr Madzima said in some communities, health workers were collecting the drugs to deliver to people at their homes.

“Initially there were challenges when people were required to provide reasons why they needed to travel during the first three weeks. But I am glad to say that challenge has been addressed. We have also told our health institutions to give HIV clients three months supply of drugs so that we minimize travelling. So, we have really stepped up stocking of drugs in the facilities so that when they go there, they get three months supply,” said Dr Madzima.

In the Midlands province for example, Dr Madzima said Nac has availed a vehicle that goes into communities to supply drugs in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

“We note that in this environment of isolation, the programme of testing of HIV, provision of condoms can actually go down and in the process, we reverse the gains we have made in the STI programme, in the family planning programme, in the HIV programme. So we are also saying we have to innovate and make sure that whilst people are locked down, there has to be testing of HIV, provision of condoms and family planning tablets, so those logistics are being put in place because we don’t anticipate Covid-19 to end anytime soon but we don’t want to run the risk of going backwards in terms of other programmes we have been successful in,” he said.

Dr Madzima said there is need to start resource mobilisation for 2021 so that they are not found wanting in terms of supplying ARVs.

“We need to resource mobilise right now and make sure that Nac remains relevant in responding to health challenges of Zimbabweans especially centered around HIV. But resources really are mirroring what is happening on the economic front,” he said. Dr Madzima said Nac is also assisting Government with PPEs to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19.

Source – chroncile