Chituwo challenges govt over ARVs

Government should own up and tell the Zambians if it has run out of money for the procurement of Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) resulting in the inconsistent supply of the life saving drugs.

Former Minister of Health (MoH) and Mumbwa Member of Parliament Dr Brian Chituwo said there was need to refocus their procurement agenda on ensuring that there are enough ARV drugs in the country for the 500,000 people whose lives depend on the life saving medication.

Dr Chituwo, who is Parliamentary Committee chairperson for health wondered what could have gone wrong when the system has been going on well for many years.

“What has gone wrong to forecast in quantification the needs of the patients?  Government should tell us if they have run out of money for ARVs.  They should say so and the nation should know,” Dr Chituwo said.

And the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections (JCTR) says government should explain the perpetual shortage of ARVs in public health institutions which was affecting the lives of many people living positively.

JCTR national coordinator Father Leonard Chiti said not withstanding the various challenges in the health sector, the government should explain the inconsistence in the supply of the drugs to the people whose lives depend on life saving medication.

Fr. Chiti said government has no excuse for the situation as they received funding for the supply of ARVs.

“We know that government gets external funding for ARV therapy and that is why they are able to provide the drugs for free to the patients, which is why we can‘t understand the current situation, and it is raising a lot of concern among us stakeholders,” he said.

Fr. Chiti said he could not understand why government has failed to deliver those drugs which situation has endangered the lives of so many people.

He said it was a known fact that government did not disburse regular funding to health sector, and it was a tough situation for those people living on the life long therapy.

He said the situation was sending the patients to a swift end to life, and that it should not be interrupted.

“Please explain why we have this shortage when private run situations including those under the Church Health Associations of Zambia (CHAZ) are not rationing?  People need those drugs to stay alive, and any interruption or inconsistency in taking or using the drugs will lead to drastic responses and even resistance on the patients’ wellbeing,” he said.

There have been reports of people being sent away with one week supply of drugs while others with nothing following a persistent shortfall of the supplies of the ARVs at pubic health institutions.

One thought on “Chituwo challenges govt over ARVs

  1. Dear Editor,

    Allow me make a few comments on this issue.

    Firstly, many thanks to Dr Chituwo for coming out strong on this issue and all those others trying to highlight the critical situation regarding availability of ARVs. indeed, his matter deserves serious attention and a statement is called for from the Minister of Healths’ Office as the news can not be false given the number of reports being cited around the country of ARVs running out. It is not a political issue as it is a matter of life and death. The number of people on treatment in the country is too high and the cost to the country if the situation is not remedied quickly to ghastly to contmplate.

    Ministry of Health/National Aids Commission (NAC) should quickly convene a stakeholders meeting and strategise to ensure that these life saving commodities are quickly brought into the country. If such disruption continues on a large scale we risk endangering the outcome of treatment due to possible development of resistance to the drugs currently being used, with subsquent increase in cost due to use of maore expensive alternatives. Hence, rather that turning this into a political scapegoat, lets come togather and dialogue to move towards a lasting solution. Where is Zambia Medical Association in all this?

    Wat really are the issues? Is it the funding or a procurement issue? If ist is funding, carefull reassessemnt of current needs should be done with reprogramming to ensure resources are freed to procure drugs in an expediated manner. If it is the procurement process, this is an emergency and procurement can be fast tracked to meet the current need.

    Can we see some action on this please.. its embarassing.. Lets advocate and act in a unified manner to get this issue sorted..And quickly.

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