Friday, May 05, 2006

Zim about to run out of HIV drugs

Zimbabwe is running out of anti-retroviral drugs to treat about 20,000 people suffering from HIV/AIDS and there is no foreign currency left to import additional supplies. Zimbabwe's economic crisis is deepening and the health sector is among those hardest hit by the meltdown.

National Pharmaceutical Company head Charles Mwaramba has told a parliamentary committee that the government-owned company does not have money to import anti-retroviral drugs to treat people infected with the HIV virus. He said this would affect 20,000 people in the government program.

An additional 6,000-8,000 people buy anti-retroviral drugs privately, but even they are struggling to find them, according to several pharmacies in Harare.

This dire situation contrasts with the government's target of supplying free anti-retroviral drugs to 100,000 people by the end of last year.

Government statistics show that out of 1.6 million Zimbabweans infected with the HIV virus, about 380,000 would fully qualify for anti-retroviral drugs. ...

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