Zambia refutes reports of shortage of HIV/AIDS drugs

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Lusaka, Sep 16 (IANS) The Zambian government has refuted media reports that the country has run out of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs meant for people living with HIV.

Lackson Kasonka, the Permanent Secretary in Charge of Technical Services in the Ministry of Health, said on Thursday that contrary to the reports, the country has enough ARV drugs with 98 per cent of 1.2 million people living with HIV receiving the new, safe and easier-to-take Dolutegravir, a combination drug.

He added that the only drug which was in short supply was an old drug, Zidovudine, which was currently facing low global demand due to its side effects, Xinhua news agency reported.

He, however, said that the Ministry, working with other stakeholders, was working on modalities to transition people living with HIV and using the old drug to better, safer and easier-to-take ARVs.

“The Ministry of Health wishes to inform members of the public that there is no shortage of antiretroviral drugs in Zambia. In the quest to provide safer and more efficacious drugs, the optimisation of antiretroviral therapy has since started,” he added in a statement.

The Ministry, he said, remains committed to ensuring that people living with HIV have adequate access to quality and efficacious ARV drugs for a longer and healthier life.

He further added that guidance has been provided to health workers to fast-track the transition from the use of the old drug to the new combination therapy.



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