Tuesday, 22 December 2015

HIV drug shortfall hits Uganda

Ugandan Health Minister, Sarah Opendi, said on Monday, that the country was in dire need of 10 million dollars to meet ``an alarming shortage’’ of anti-retroviral drugs for people living with AIDS.

``The shortage has been caused by the Ugandan shilling’s loss of about 20 per cent of its value against the dollar in 2015, and by the sheer volume of people infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV),’’ Opendi said.
She said that some 1.5 million Ugandans were currently living with HIV, with 820,000 of them currently on treatment.
According to him, the shortage is affecting around 240,000 people, who either have no drugs or are unable to take the required dosage.
"The Ugandan shilling has lost its value against the dollar and funds to purchase the drugs could not go through the entire programme.
"The number of people on the drugs is also high, at more than 800,000.
``The government is urgently mobilising 10 million dollars to buy the drugs,‘’ she said.
The Minister also said that the drugs in stock would last about six months.
A leading AIDS activist in the country had accused the Ugandan government of diverting funds to political campaigns ahead of the general elections in February.
"The government is focusing on elections and not looking at drugs as a priority," Beautrice Were, an Aids activist with the Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV, said.
``We have noted that disruptions in the supply of the medication might lead to drug-resistance.
"Whether we have campaigns to elect a new government or not, it cannot be an excuse for the state to neglect its obligations to provide treatment for AIDS patients," she said. (NAN)
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