Bulawayo Metropolitan has been hit by Antiretroviral (ARV) drug shortages amid revelations people living with HIV are being supplied pills on a monthly basis contrary to previous allocations of once every six months.
Last year, people living with HIV/AIDS were having difficulties in accessing second line drugs from public health institutions forcing them to buy ARVs from private pharmacies at US$25.
In a recent interview with NewZimbabwe.com, HIV activist Dumisani Nkomo said people in need of the drugs were failing to get answers from authorities on why they were not getting sufficient supplies like what used to happen in the past.
“We are finding it difficult to understand what exactly is happening in terms of ARVs shortages. We got an assurance that drugs will never be in shortfall but this is not the case anymore,” he said.
“I recently went for my supplies and they gave me a supply for one month instead of six months like in the past. Truly the shortage is there and the authorities need to tell us what is happening and the way forward.”
Nkomo said the shortages have been recorded in both towns and rural areas.
“We cannot say we are looking for a special treatment due to the fact that we are currently in the middle of a pandemic. We just call for a balanced treatment since it seems we are now living at a time full of other diseases.
“We have a challenge because the funds for ARV drugs were obviously diverted to Covid-19. We also have teenagers who are defaulting and currently there is no one who monitors them.”
Contacted for comment, Bulawayo medical director Welcome Mlilo confirmed some of the drugs for HIV/AIDS were not adequately stocked.
“Some of the formulations are not adequately stocked, so a few clients on selected regimens will receive a month’s supply instead of three to six months,” he said.
“The greater majority of the clients continue to receive supplies of three to six months.”
Zimbabwe has an estimated 1, 4 million people living with HIV/AIDS and taking ARVs.