Uganda runs out of HIV drugs

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) addressing the media

The life-saving HIV medicine has run out of stock in Uganda. The revelation was made by the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) at the Ministry of Health.

Uganda has 1.5 million people living with HIV according to the 2021 UNAIDS report. At least 1.3 million are aware of their HIV status while 1.2 million are on treatment.

According to the Kuraish Mubiru, the Executive Director of Uganda Young Positives, over the last six to nine months, the monitoring of quality and accessibility of the HIV response carried out by the people living with HIV and other directly impacted communities has exposed chronic shortage of HIV treatment at facilities across the country.  

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Since November 2021, Uganda has been grappling with the limited supply of HIV medication particularly for the third line medicines such as Raltegravir and darunavir drugs. The treatment shortages of the third line medicines are deadly especially when it is known that beyond that there is no available option for the affected persons.

“The treatment experienced by HIV positive people are more likely to be immunocompromised and are at great risk of HIV progression. Pregnant mothers are likely to give birth to HIV positive babies and HIV transmission rate is scheduled to increase if the problem is not solved,” he said.

He claimed that Uganda, PEPFAR and the Global Fund have not responded to the stock out of HIV drugs in the country yet they were notified.

He said the ministry of health confirmed to them that in the recent quarter stock report indicates that there were low stock levels of Raltegravir 400 mg and Raltegravir 100mg and Darunavir 75mg. The pipeline of Darunavir 600 mg is short dated.

Atim Salom, a Human Rights Activist and the chairperson of the program oversight Committee of Global Country Coordinating Mechanism said uninterrupted and adequate supplies of life saving antiretroviral treatment are essential to achieving Uganda’s goal of defeating HIV and achieving 95-95-95 target of 95 percent of people with HIV knowing their HIV status, 95 percent on treatment and 95 percent having durably suppresses viral load.

“All babies, Children and adults living with HIV need to access antiretroviral treatment that suppresses their viral load and keeps them healthy. But universal access to treatment is becoming mirage for people living with HIV,” she said.

The CSOs recommend that Uganda implement the 15 per cent Abuja declaration as a signatory and ensure that each health sector, including HIV, has clear-cut expenses for all areas of intervention, including commodities Government of Uganda, in situations of such crisis, speak out and inform the affected population with clear guidance on how service providers will manage the clients throughout such crisis.

They asked the National Medical Stores (NMS) to deliver medicines with longer shelf life which will reduce the volume of expiry, strengthen inventory management practices, and optimize supply chain management of medical and pharmaceutical products for commodity security with minimal stakeouts of essential products.

They also asked the Global Fund to step up with an emergency procurement of medicines for third-line treatment, doubling current investments to ensure all people with HIV on the third line of continuous access to highly active therapy.

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