Monday, July 22, 2024

A critical shortage of ARVs hits most health facilities around the country



A CRITICAL shortage of Antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) has hit most health facilities around the country.

As a result of the shortage of the life-saving drugs, most patients were being switched to other types while waiting for the recommended ones to be in stock.

A check at most accessed facilities in Lusaka, the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Kalingalinga, Kamwala, Matero, Ngwerere and Chawama clinics found that most of them had either run low on supply or had completely run out.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Reuben Kamoto Mbewe confirmed that some clinics had run low on Truvada and Neviripine while some had completely run out of the drugs.

“Most ARVs are available in health facilities except for Truvada+Naviripine that have run low in some health centres whilst we have stock-outs in three clinics in Lusaka. The three clinics that have run-out of this drug are Matero, Ngwerere and Chawama,” Dr Mbewe said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday.

He said urgent arrangements had been made to distribute drugs to the three clinics from the district pharmacy stores at Kalingalinga.

He said his ministry was expected to receive 91,500 bottles of Truvada in three weeks time and another 400,000 bottles in September this year with the last consignment of 300,000 bottles of the same drugs in October.

He assured patients not to panic as the supply of Truvada was available in sufficient quantities until the ministry received the next consignment in three weeks’ time and further assured those not on Truvada that other ARVs were available.

Dr Mbewe said in the meantime his ministry had initiated the purchase of 600,000 bottles of Truvada as a stop-gap measure and these were expected to also arrive in the country in September this year.

He attributed the delay to the purchase of the said drugs to logistics in the procurement process and that the manufacturers had also other challenges in acquiring one of the raw materials (Tenofovir) which was vital in the manufacturing process.

He said the shortage of Tenofovir materials had also caused a serious shortage of Truvada on the world market.

Times investigations, however, found that at most ART centres, patients on Truvada and Neviripine were being switched to Atriper with most of them wondering what this switch would mean.

They wondered what would happen when the Truvada was back in stock whether they would again revert back to it and feared that changing of ARVs could have adverse effects on their immune systems.

A memorandum found at the clinics from the Ministry of Health indicated that only a minimum number of people should be left on Neviripine because it would now be used for second line treatment.

Health staff said they were now issuing drugs for up to one month and in some cases for up to two weeks to patients as opposed to the usual three months supply as it was not clear when they would receive the next stocks.


  1. The explanation given by the ministry of health is flimsy and an insult to peoples intelligence.Thats what happens when you put doctors in administrative positions.These people did not acquire administrative skills at medical school.Let them go back to the wards and let proper business administrators do the job.

    • Oh no! This could regress patient’s progress. Lets hope for a quick resolve. I dont understand how this can happen.

  2. How come Kabimba and Sakeni have enough supplies when there is a critical shortage of the product around the country??

  3. I hope this does not mean that HIV
    Aids is going to start spreading. It
    seems we don’t have resources for
    anything except silly by-elections.

  4. Dr Mbewe, tell the truth for once, please. it is NOT clinically advisable to switch ARVs just like that as if they are smarties. Those people are being sent to their death bed by a careless government that has used their money on bye elections.

  5. The president doesn’t know anything about this. I am going to c him and Kamoto Mbewe, be rest assured, u no longer have a job. U guys are more than the Mailoni brothers(daylight murder). Come on! Firm up Kamoto and your team. Nonsense explanation.

  6. zambian watch dog disclosed this last week and the grz denied the claim. now you see that these guys are bunch of liars.

  7. RED CARD!! hey jst use the ballot when time comes, in driving test 10 gd skills wont cove 1 major mistake,, lets not give up like in American we will keep witching govt until we r there..

  8. The flimsy excuses are unacceptble. Changing of drugs on patients is equally unacceptable. MOH, you are dealing with peoples’ lives here. Kamoto Mbewe, we know that the money has gone to useless and senseless by elections so just tell us that the money is not there. What Dr. Bulaya did years gone by is nothing compared to what is happening now.

  9. Sakeni and Kabimba must be the last ones to receive the ARVS. The biggest consumer is Ka Mpezeni, the rapist and whose ribs you can count even if he wears a borrowed jacket from Emmanuel Milingo.

  10. LT, you need to credit the Times of Zambia for this article, otherwise it is just plagiarism. As regards the issue at hand, why are more people not upset about this? As other bloggers have said, switching ARV regimens is not something one just does on the spur of the moment when other drugs are not in stock. Why is there no sense of urgency coming from the government? Why are they mostly quiet? Can some of you bloggers in other countries imagine if supplies of drugs ran out for a disease that affected one out of every five people in the capital city? This is appalling!

  11. Alarming the nation with a fake headline! If people are getting switched to other names of the drugs that is not a shortage. It is not about the name of the drug, it is the composition of the drug that matters.
    And this habit of generalising issues by journalists is unprofessional, this research was done only in Lusaka, they never even managed to check in Kabwe or Kafue but they claim for the whole country. Lusaka has a higher population of HIV infested people than the rest of the country and this should be taken into consideration. Why give them 3 months stocks of drugs? It is not economical and maybe they are selling them in the black market. This is also a subsidy which is taking a huge chunk of health budget and people are taking it for granted and do not change their sexual habits.

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