A Shortage of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs has left more than 1 million Zimbabweans living with HIV/AIDS at high risk. This is the latest emergency in the Southern African country’s health sector, which is bearing the brunt of severe economic problems.
The Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV, Lawyers for Human Rights and Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP) expressed concern at government’s sloth in resolving the ongoing shortages the second-line regimen drug, Abacavir. “We are equally concerned the country will not be able to cope if clients on second line must move to third line due to treatment failure and an increase in defaulters due to unavailability of treatment in public health institutions,” the organisations stated jointly. They appealed to the government to the desperately needed foreign currency to ensure an uninterrupted supply of the lifesaving drugs especially considering that people on second line were already at high risk. However, the government of President Robert Mugabe is broke and intermittently fails to pay civil servants. The Zimbabwe Red Cross said with more than 1,4 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe, the demand for ARVs and other health care support was high. Maxwell Phiri, Secretary General of the organisation, said the cost of treatment put a huge financial burden on families. “Tragically, this prevents them from accessing the quality care they need,” Phiri said. Zimbabwe’s once revered health sector has collapsed with health centres running out of drugs and medicines. The wealthy minority seek treatment mostly in neighbouring South Africa leaving millions succumbing in the impoverished country.