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HIV patients at the mercy of donors

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MASVINGO — Approximately 300 000 HIV and Aids patients on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) are in danger of defaulting, amid fears donors funding the purchase and distribution of the life-prolonging drugs could pull out next year, the National Aids Council (Nac) has said.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Zimbabwe Aids Network (Zan) conference and annual general meeting at Great Zimbabwe Hotel yesterday, Nac national operations director Raymond Yekeye said three quarters of HIV-positive patients in the country have their drugs sourced by donors, a situation he described as “unhealthy” as it leaves them vulnerable once the ‘Good Samaritans’ walk away.

“We should not have the health of the majority in the hands of partners. If they walk away, the lives of the patients would be in danger,” he said.

Among donors providing the ARVs for free is the US.
“The Aids levy is insufficient to provide ARVs for all HIV patients.

Although the government gave a directive that 50% of the money should go towards the purchase of drugs, we also meet other costs like laboratory treatments,” he said.

He urged the government to facilitate the local production of ARV drugs for them to be affordable.

“Why should we allow a finished product to come into the country at a higher cost when the local firms can create employment if capacitated to produce the ARVs?” he said.

Zan director Lindiwe Chaza-Jangira said the government should uphold its commitment of allocating 15% of the National Budget to health.

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