Find money for ARVs, Saunders urges govt

Government must immediately find money to address the shortage of Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in the country, says the political activist Dante Saunders.

Mr Saunders said that it was shocking that the country could run out of the drugs when a lot of resources were being wasted on unbudgeted things that had nothing to do with the common man.

“The people of Zambia cannot continue to be subjected to that situation when ministers and other government officials are going out with hefty salaries. For them, if they have headache, they are evacuated to South Africa, while people are dying due to lack of medicines in the country,

“If this government really feels for the people, let them cut down their hefty salaries and put it to acquiring ARVs so that lives are saved. The same people who are neglected are the ones who are expected to queue and vote for them,” he said.

He said there was serious overrun on the budget, which government needed to explain to the people to dispel allegations that it was misapplying public resources.

He said it was worrisome that even the cooperating partners had raised concern on the significant deficit during the month of June, adding that there was need for government to take measures and concentrating on unbudgeted activities that have continued to be a drain to the country’s resources.

Mr Saunders said that there was an urgent need for Zambians to adopt a comprehensive strategy that would help save their lives instead of depending on the PF government that preferred to spend colossal sums of money on the induced by-elections.

“Government has no excuse whatsoever for the shortage of drugs in the country, and it will not be acceptable to see people die because of shortage of ARVs,

“It is not long ago when they removed subsidies on maize and fuel meant for the good of people, now that there is a critical situation that needs to be addressed, we want to see the government address the shortage of drugs immediately before the country records any loss of lives,

“I wonder why government is taking too long to address the ARVs situation and anyway I see no reason why the country should have a shortage of drugs when such programmes are funded.

He said the shortage of ARVs should not triumph because government knew all the processes and records involved in procuring the drugs.

“We cannot continue with the current situation where people’s lives are at risk, and it will be prudent to find other ways to mitigate the shortage,” he said.

Mr Saunders has however challenged government to take keen interest in providing for the people and stop been negligent in the manner it was playing with the people’s lives.

According to reports, some patients were turned away from some clinics in Lusaka due to lack of the drug.

But Health Minister Dr Joseph Kasonde said about K175 million was allocated for the procurement of ARVs in the 2013 budget.