Zimbabwe Running Out of AIDS Drugs as Crisis Worsens
May 3, 2006
Zimbabwe's National Pharmaceutical Company is stretched for funds to purchase antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for the government's treatment of AIDS patients, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported today. Zimbabwe is experiencing food, fuel and foreign currency shortages and an almost 1,000 percent inflation rate. International sanctions have been levied over claims of political repression in Zimbabwe, which President Robert Mugabe denies.
The pharmaceutical firm is Zimbabwe's main medicine repository. Of the $7.4 million it requested from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe between January and March, just $106,000 has been allocated, the Herald reported.
"There are 20,000 people on the ARVs national program and we have less than a month's supply of the vital drugs and that is not encouraging," Charles Mwaramba, the company's acting director, was quoted as telling a group of visiting members of Parliament.
Neither Health Minister David Parirenyatwa nor Mwaramba was available for comment.
"We understand that drugs are also competing with other items like fuel for foreign currency but the picture is not encouraging," said Mwaramba. A grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria to provide ARVs to another 25,000 patients will not be available until January. Drugs to ease pain and treat TB and high blood pressure are also scarce, he said.
Last month, private hospitals boosted patient fees by 100-1,000 percent, and two major government hospitals were forced to ration food after a food supplier stopped deliveries over an unpaid debt.
05.03.06; Cris Chinaka
Zimbabwe's Economic Crisis Raises Health Care Costs, Limits Access to Services Including HIV/AIDS Care