We have enough ARVs in stock- Ministry of Health

Uganda has adequate stocks of Anti-retroviral drugs to manage all the patients on treatment in the country, the ministry of health has said.

The affirmation comes on the backdrop of reports that the country is facing a shortage of ARVs because more people were enrolled on the drugs following the introduction of the test and treat policy by the World Health Organisation.

The policy targets to ensure that 90 per cent of the people living with HIV in the world will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of people diagnosed with HIV infection will receive sustained anti-retroviral therapy and 90 per cent will have a suppressed viral load.

However, a statement issued by the Ministry Monday indicates that Uganda operates a dual track supply chain for ARVs involving the public sector which is supplied through National Medical Stores, and the private sector supplied by Joint Medical stores and medical access Uganda Limited.

According to the statement, over two-thirds of patients in Uganda are supplied through the Public sector supply chain primarily funded by the Government of Uganda and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.  The Private Sector commodities are funded through the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

In the last two years, the United States government through PEPEFAR has provided some resources to bridge the gaps in the public sector ARVs supplies.

But the statement adds that the quantity of second line and some pediatric ARV formulations for the public sector fell below the acceptable buffer stocks of 4 months. This was a result of some delays in the delivery of some of the ARV orders. As a result of this, government facilities had to rationalize drug usage in the health facilities.

This meant that instead of prescribing the normal two months of drug refills, health workers reduced the refill period to one month. The ministry of health also worked with District Health Teams and implementing partners to redistribute stock among facilities on consideration of their stock levels.

The formulations have since been procured and have now arrived in the country.

"NMS is in the process is distributing these commodities with prioritization of the districts and health facilities that were most affected by the rationalization," Dr Henry Mwebesa the acting Director General of Health Services said.

He added that the stock levels for the first line formulations on the public sector have been normal and stable.

The Ministry of Health also dismissed claims that funds meant for procurement of ARVs were diverted to pay for other commodities that are not ARVS.  The statement says that on the contrary, additional funds such as from the programming of other activities were allocated for the procurement of more ARVs.

"In the current Global Fund Grant USD 19 million was reprogrammed to procure ARVs to bridge the public sector gap," the statement says.


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