The Zambian government has denied media reports that the country has run out of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for people living with HIV.
Lackson Kasonka, the Permanent Secretary in charge of technical services at the Ministry of Health, said on Thursday that contrary to reports, there are enough ARV drugs in the country, of which 98 percent of the 1.2 million people living with HIV are new, safe and easy to obtain. who are receiving dolutegravir, a combination medicine.
He said the only drug that was in short supply was zidovudine, an older drug that was currently facing low global demand due to its side effects, Xinhua news agency reported.
However, he added that the ministry, along with other stakeholders, is working on ways to convert people living with HIV and use of the old drug to better, safer and easier to use ARVs.
“The Ministry of Health would like to inform members of the public that there is no shortage of antiretroviral drugs in Zambia. In the quest to provide safer and more efficacious drugs, adaptation of antiretroviral therapy has begun,” he said in a statement.
He said that the Ministry is committed to ensure that people living with HIV have adequate access to quality and effective ARV medicines for a long and healthy life.
He further said that guidance has been provided to health workers to fast-track the transition from the use of the old drug to the new combination therapy.