Zimbabwean Government To Delay Enrollment of Additional HIV-Positive People In Drug Treatment Program
The Zimbabwean government has announced that it will postpone enrolling additional HIV-positive people to its antiretroviral treatment program following reports that its drug supply could run out by December, PlusNews reports. According to Health Minister David Parirenyatwa, the government is able to continue providing antiretrovirals to people currently on the treatment program, but it does not have the resources to add more people to the program. Zimbabwe is experiencing a "severe economic crisis" because of recurring droughts and the government's land redistribution program, both of which have interrupted agricultural production and harmed export earnings, PlusNews reports. The government in 2002 declared a state of emergency in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which allows the country to import and locally manufacture less-expensive generic drugs under World Trade Organization regulations. However, the country's drug manufacturer, Varichem, has been constrained by a lack of foreign currency to import raw materials to make antiretrovirals, according to PlusNews. About 42,000 HIV-positive people are receiving antiretrovirals from state programs, and about 310,000 people need the drugs, PlusNews reports. Mary Sandasi, executive director of the Women and AIDS Support Network, said the government is "sentencing to death" thousands of people living with the virus. Benjamin Mazhindu, Zimbabwe National Network for People Living with HIV and AIDS chair, said the organization hopes to meet with Parirenyatwa this week to address the shortage. Some HIV-positive Zimbabweans have said that they will stage protests if the government fails to provide increased access to antiretrovirals, PlusNews reports (PlusNews, 10/18).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.