Government has no excuse whatsoever for the shortage of Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in the country, says Non-Governmental Organizations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board chairperson Beatrice Grillo.
Ms Grillo said the shortage situation should not prevail because government by now knew the processes and logistics involved in the ordering, shipment and arrival of ARVs from the manufacturers.
“Government should by now have systems in place to ensure constant supplies of the drugs for people whose lives depend on ARVs,” she said
Ms Grillo said it was unacceptable for government health institutions to run short of the ARVs when they have been running the programme for many years and should be able to understand how the procedure worked.
“We can’t continue with the current situation where people have continued to receive one week’s supplies; it is inconveniencing and very expensive in terms of transport money for the patients, especially in rural areas,” she said.
Ms Grillo urged government to take drastic measures in mitigating the continued problems with ARV supplies which situation was negatively affecting patients as they risked missing their daily doses.
She said the ARVs were lifesaving drugs which should not be allowed to run short as was the case with any other drugs for that matter as they risked causing resistance to the patients.
“Ministry of Health (MoH) should ensure regular supplies of medicines for all diseases, but most especially the ARVs which drugs are so vital that there should be proper systems in place to ensure continuous supply,” she said.
The NGOCC chief said MoH should have enough back up drugs to avoid such eventualities as late shipments and manufacturing problems.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Kamoto Mbewe announced on Saturday that there was a shortage of ARVs in some clinics due to late shipment of the drugs into Zambia from the manufacturers.