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ZIMBABWE: Update on state of emergency over HIV/AIDS

A month after Zimbabwe's government declared a state of emergency over HIV/AIDS to allow the importation and manufacture of generic drugs, not much action has been taken and there are still a lot of unanswered questions, Zimbabwe's National Network for People living with HIV/AIDS (ZNNP+), told PlusNews.

"A lot has been said but we still don't know anything about it and how it will affect us," Jefta Mxotshwa, acting director of ZNNP+ told PlusNews on Friday.

The government should have made wider consultations with various stakeholders before announcing the state of emergency, as there seemed to be no clarity over details of what the declaration meant, he said.

This week, the main state-controlled daily, The Herald, reported that government plans to acquire antiretroviral drugs from Asia, were at an advanced stage.

"We have declared the AIDS pandemic an emergency and we are taking a systematic approach to acquire affordable antiretroviral drugs from Thailand, India and Europe. Our primary objective is to have the anti-retroviral drugs available in public hospitals and to ascertain their genuineness through the Medical Control Authority before they are eventually privatised," the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, was quoted as saying.

Mxotshwa said: "It is cheaper to import the drugs from Asia because of the foreign currency shortages facing Zimbabwe, as the currencies of Asian countries are weaker than those of most European countries. The drugs, however, need to go through an effective screening process before they are released to the public. There is also a need for all stakeholders to complement the efforts of the government in its procurement efforts."

Declaring a state of emergency was an expensive programme as the health care system would have to treat the epidemic as such and health workers had to learn how to administer the drugs, he said.

"We will see how this will benefit people living with HIV/AIDS, as the majority of them are poor and nothing has been said about subsidising these drugs when they arrive."

"At face value, it all sounds good and we appreciate it but when you look deeper, there's not a lot they are doing," he added.

Theme (s): Care/Treatment - PlusNews, Other,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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