Pharmacies in Zimbabwe are facing serious drug shortages as a result of the country's ongoing economic crisis, and at least half of drug supplies in the country's pharmacies are out of stock, state media reported Tuesday, the SAPA/Independent Online reports. Treatments for HIV/AIDS, malaria, diabetes, high blood pressure and epilepsy now are found in only about one in four pharmacies in the country, according to a recent survey. The remaining drugs have become too costly for most higher-paid workers to afford, according to media reports.
"We have applied for foreign currency, and we are waiting for allocations," Ishe Nkomo, president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe, said, adding, "Most pharmacies can no longer afford to import drugs, so the few that are still importing tend to be expensive." The situation likely will have negative effects for the one in seven Zimbabweans estimated to be living with HIV, according to the SAPA/Online. One month's prescription of Stalenev 30, a common antiretroviral drug, now costs 85 million Zimbabwean dollars, or $2,833. More than 90,000 Zimbabweans are believed to be taking antiretrovirals.
The country also is experiencing a shortage of malaria medications. Simple mosquito repellents that are applied to the body now cost an average of 20 million Zimbabwean dollars, or $667, per bottle in available locations, the SAPA/Online reports. Many doctors and nurses also have left the country in search of better salaries as a result of the economic situation. Reports from Britain estimate that at least 16,000 nurses from Zimbabwe had been granted working visas during the last eight years (SAPA/Independent Online, 1/9).
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