By Veneranda Langa/Vanessa Gonye
HEALTH minister Obadiah Moyo yesterday told Parliament that there were enough anti-retroviral drugs in the country stocked at Natpharm to last until the first quarter of 2020.
He was appearing before Senator Morgan Femai’s Parliamentary Thematic Committee on HIV/Aids together with Health secretary Agnes Mahomva to speak on policy measures in place to ensure funds are allocated towards procurement of ARVs.
He said second line ARV treatment drugs will last up to the end of the year to cater for the 1,1 million patients on ARV therapy in the country while there were enough medicine for the first line treatment till the first quarter of 2020.
Moyo, however, said that the country was heavily depended on the Global Fund for ARV procurement support and the United States support through Pepfar.
He was responding to Senator Lillian Timveous who questioned why there were stocks at Natpharm but poor distribution to clinics.
Moyo said the Global Fund takes care of 710 000 patients, Pepfar 193 000 patients and the National Aids Council 113 000 patients while the 5% gap of uncovered patients pertained to about 53 000 people.
“We have received $72,3 million from the Global Fund, $23,6 million from government and $25,2 million from Pepfar for ARVs for 2019 and the shortfall is $6,6 million,” he said.
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National Aids Council acting chief executive officer Raymond Yekeye said the last cheque of foreign currency they received through the Aids levy was $64 000. Yesterday, the Thematic Committee on HIV /AIDS said it will follow up on the state of affairs at health institutions regarding drug availability following reports of a massive shortage of second line ARVs.
During a fact-finding tour of Natpharm by the committee yesterday, acting Committee Chairperson, Morgan Komichi said their main focus was to check on availability of ARV drugs and the general state of affairs at the drug procurement agency.
Komichi said the fact-finding brought to the surface the fact that Natpharm is dependent on donor supplies for its stock, a trait that exposes the country’s health sector should the donors retreat.
This follows news of an impending disaster of drug shortages around the country, putting to risk people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Recent reports claim that Mashonaland West province is facing a critical shortage of second line anti-retroviral drugs and antibiotics.
Natpham managing director, Florah Sifeku said they have given off seven months’ supply of HIV/AIDS first line drugs, which are mainly from the donor community while second and third line drugs are available in limited supply. Meanwhile, NatPharm says at least US$ 80 million is needed to save the country from the drug shortages it is currently experiencing.
Sifeku told Parliament during the tour that they were mainly relying on supplies from development partners as government was unable to clear the US$ 80 million tender submitted last year.
She pleaded with Parliament to push for their allocation of foreign currency so they could avoid casualties that are likely to come with shortage of supplies at her organisation.