HARARE, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- Non-governmental organizations in Zimbabwe voiced concern Wednesday over the shortage of anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs in the country.
The shortage puts the health and welfare of over one million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe at risk, the organizations said.
"The Zimbabwe National Network of People Living with HIV (ZNNP+), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Diocese of Mutare Community Care Program (DOMCCP) express grave concern over the slow pace at which the on-going shortages of anti-retroviral (ARVs) drugs, particularly the second line regimen drug, Abacavir, is being resolved," the organizations said in a joint statement.
The organizations said over the past two months, thousands of people living with HIV have been facing shortages of the life-saving second line ARV drug, Abacavir.
Zimbabwe is facing an acute shortage of foreign currency which has crippled importation of essentials such as drugs, industrial raw materials, electricity and fuel.
"We are equally concerned that the country will not be able to cope if the clients on second line have to be moved to third line (a much more expensive combination) due to treatment failure and an increase in defaulters due to unavailability of treatment in public health institutions," the organizations said.
They urged the government to urgently prioritize the allocation of foreign currency towards the procurement of ARVs, noting that the shortage has the effect of watering down remarkable progress made by the country in fighting HIV.
"We appeal to both the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Ministry of Health and Child Care to avail the desperately needed foreign currency to ensure an uninterrupted supply of the lifesaving drugs."
The organizations also urged the government to make ARVs available to people living with HIV free of charge to reduce morbidity and mortality due to HIV and AIDS.
They called for localization of the manufacture of ARV drugs, saying this will assist in preventing interruptions caused by time lags and potentially bring down the prices of ARV drugs.