Concern over TB drugs shortage
Senior Health Reporter
Patients on tuberculosis (TB) treatment have expressed fears of developing drug resistant TB following shortages of a key combination drug in most health institutions in the past two months.
Some patients from Chitungwiza interviewed claimed that the drug – rhzefdc – was in short supply since June and they have been travelling to as far as Mvurwi and Shamva to get their supplies.
“We have been experiencing this shortage for the past two months and some adults have been taking paediatric formulations. Some of us have had to go as far as Shamva just to get these drugs,” said one of the patients who spoke on condition of anonymity.
She said with this interrupted treatment, they were now fearing for multi-drug-resistant TB.
Deputy director for Aids and TB Unit in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Charles Sandy confirmed the shortages but was quick to point out that the Medicines San Frontiers (MSF) and the embassy of South Sudan had since chipped in to avert the crisis.
“Yes, our deliveries were delayed resulting in a temporary shortage of some drug combinations but MSF quickly chipped in with the required medication thereby averting the crisis,” he said.
Dr Sandy said Government was also expecting further supplies from the embassy of Sudan this weekend as well as its own shipment.
“We have received MSF supported medicines last week and are anticipating our own deliveries to start coming in this weekend as well as the
South Sudan delayed donation. We anticipate the situation to have improved after the weekend,” said Dr Sandy.
TB is treatable, but drug interruptions increase chances of development of drug resistant strains which are difficult to treat, takes longer and expensive compared to ordinary TB.
TB remains one of the country’s major public health problem and with the emergence of drug resistant TB, the country risks eroding gains already made in reducing the general TB burden in the country.
Zimbabwe is among the 30 high TB burdened country’s in the world.