International humanitarian aid non-governmental organisation, Médecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), says stockouts of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) are being caused by shambolic supply chains in countries most affected by HIV and Aids and is calling on governments and partners to rectify this.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Speaking at the ongoing International Conference on Aids and STIs in Africa (ICASA) during the launch of a report on stockouts, MSF regional pharmacist Tinne Gils said governments should be accountable to patients and ensure a steady supply.
“We cannot fix what we do not see. Most stockouts happen in silence and patients go home empty-handed,” she said.
Gils said the report, which was drawn from surveys in some African countries like South Africa, showed that most stockouts are due to inability of ARV supply chains.
Nationwide surveys conducted in South Africa shows that between 20 and 25% of local health centres were unable to dispense the complete amount of one or more HIV or TB medications.
The report shows that improving medicine delivery to the last mile will require long-term commitment from countries and international donors but it also details simple emergency measures that can quickly decrease the impact of stockouts on patients.
“The system needs to be improved because we cannot fight HIV without medicines. But how can patients be expected to remain adherent to their treatment if their medicines are not available?” Gilles van Cutsem, MSF’s medical co-ordinator in South Africa, said.
Zimbabwe has experienced drug stockouts and blame has been lumped on the drug supply chain which has not only caused stockouts, but some drugs have expired in stock.
Meanwhile, the community village which houses exhibitions from various organisations was officially opened by UNAids executive director Michel Sidibe, who applauded efforts made in the fight against HIV and Aids.
He, however, said more needed to be done to ensure that no one was left behind in the fight for life, especially young people who are the most affected.