Health sector battles ARV shortages

aids_drugs2As Global Fund money withdrawn
MUTARE - City health officials says they are struggling to cope with ever-growing waiting lists of people in need of HIV treatment, and few doctors available to prescribe drugs.

An official from Mutare Provincial Hospital said there were between 200 and 300 people on the waiting list for Anti Retroviral (ARV) drugs, but the country failed to receive funds to combat HIV and Aids under Global Fund Round 9.

More than 320 000 people in the country are in need of ARV treatment. Of 1, 7 million living with HIV only about 150 000 are obtaining the medication from the public health sector.

The deputy minister of Health and Child Welfare, Douglas Mombeshora, confirmed that the country did not qualify for Global Fund Round 9, saying this had a serious impact on the country`s efforts to mitigate HIV and Tuberculosis.

A local health official at Mutare hospital said Zimbabweans who had crossed the border in search of better economic opportunities in neighbouring Mozambique were returning to local hospitals and clinics after being denied treatment in that country.

These people usually inconvenience us because they came in bad shape and most of the time we are forced to jump queue to accommodate them, said an official.

Tinotenda Mabvure (33) said when she registered for ART at Chigodora clinic, 25 km south of the city, two years ago it was easy but it had become difficult to access drugs at the local Zimunya satellite clinic.

I was told by the clinic staff that they have run out of stocks and I had to part with US$50 to bribe the nurse, but I am not employed and cannot afford such kind of money every time I need medication, said Mabvure, whose health was deteriorating.

According to statistics, Zimbabwe is among the countries worst affected by HIV and Aids scourge, with an estimated of 3 000 people dying weekly from AIDS-related illnesses, according to the National Aids Council (NAC).

A local health expert, Dr Kelvin Mawoyo, said the high cost of living, unemployment and poverty had affected Zimbabweans for the past decade and the collapse of the health sector had worsened the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

The collapse of the health sector along with that of public education system reflect the decayed state of Zimbabwe`s key infrastructure and institutions after years of acute recession, said Mawoyo.

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