PUBLIC hospitals in Mashonaland Central Province have run out of cotrimoxazole drug, a situation that has forced some rural health centres to refer patients who depend on the drug to source it from urban-based private pharmacies where it is readily
Deputy provincial medical director Dr Solomon Mukurungigwa confirmed the shortage, saying it was a national problem with the main supplier, Natpharm, failing to cope with demand.
“Yes, we are facing cotrimoxazole drug shortages in the province because there was no cotrimoxazole at Natpharm. The problem is countrywide. However, patients on cotrimoxazole are being referred to the open market by public institutions to purchase the drugs for their own benefit,” Mukurungigwa said.
“Currently, we are expecting a delivery of the drug from Natpharm any time soon as we have to order four months before the supply due to the high demand of the drug,” he said.
Rural-based HIV positive patients are likely to be hit hard by the drug shortage as they depend on it to fight opportunistic infections.
Cotrimoxazole is an antibiotic meant to fight opportunistic infections and a shortage of the drug puts HIV patients at risk of opportunistic infections.
Emmanuel Molife, an HIV-positive patient said: “The government should attend to the shortage of the drug as a matter of urgency and if it means more resources should be channelled towards the purchase of these drugs let it be so, and as soon as possible to save lives.”
Molife also bemoaned the shortage of CD4 counting machines in rural areas, saying this caused some patients to continue using wrong drugs as they were unaware of their current status.
“Some people have gone for up to five years without checking their CD4 count and as a result most of them may continue taking drugs which are no longer improving their health,” Molife said.