|Acute shortage of children’s ARVs hits Lower Gweru|
|Wednesday, 13 June 2012 20:49|
THERE is a serious shortage of anti-retroviral drugs for children in Lower Gweru, forcing health officials to administer adult ARVs to children living with HIV and Aids. Sister Charity Ndlovu in charge of Madigane Clinic in Mdhaka Village said she last received Duovir N Junior, a syrup formula, at the beginning of last month.
She said the consignment only comprised 25 bottles yet there were 50 children from the village who take ARVs from the clinic.
“We usually give children a supply to last about two months but this time around I was forced to give them supplies for about a week because of the shortage,” said Sister Ndlovu.
Sister Ndlovu said she has been forced to give the children ARVs for adults, whose dosage varied according to children’s weight.
She said under normal circumstances she needed about 200 bottles of pediatric formulations.
“These children used to receive their ARVs from Medicins Sans Frontieres but since the organisation handed over the programme to Government the transition has apparently not been smooth,” she said.
She said this problem of inadequate pediatric formulations started in January when they took over from MSF.
District Nursing Officer for Lower Gweru Sister Gladys Takawira said the drug was in short supply in the whole district.
“When MSF pulled out from this area, Midlands was put in the Southern Region meaning we were supposed to get drugs from Natpharm in Bulawayo. However, there were challenges along the way and we were transferred to Harare,” she said.
Provincial Aids Co-ordinator (PAC) with the National Aids Council Mr Emmanuel Martin Rhubaya said uptake of ARVs by children was still very slow.
Mr Rhubaya attributed this to initiation processes.
“Initiation of ARVs for children is still being done by physicians and in rural settings there could be only one physician serving a number of clinics,” he said.
He said in Lower Gweru, the physician only turned up once in two weeks as he had other commitments.
“This alone reduces the number of children initiated on the drugs,” he said.
He said the process of getting results of dry blood samples required before a child is put on ARVs takes months to be released by laboratories in Harare, further delaying initiation of children on ARVs.
“There could be many children who are in need of ARVs but the process of initiating them on the drugs is very long,” he said.
According to national statistics, 41 441 children are benefiting from this programme while a mere 9 942 children are on the waiting list.
The World Health Organisation now recommends that all HIV and Aids diagnosed infants of less than 12 months of age should begin anti-retroviral therapy regardless of clinical, immunology and virology symptoms.
It was found that the risk of death for infants who began treatment immediately was 76 percent lower than the deferred treatment group.