Health activists group resents continued shortage of ARV drugs
Dimapur, Jan. 22 (EMN): The Access to Rights and Knowledge (ARK) Foundation on Tuesday expressed its “strongest dismay” the prevailing and repeated shortage of crucial antiretroviral (ARV) drugs at the antiretroviral therapy (ART) centre, District Hospital Dimapur.
The foundation issued a statement stating that as a result of an “ongoing imbroglio between the state nodal implementing agency (NSACS) and CMSS which is being contracted by NACO for the procurement and supply of the drugs,” the ART centre in Dimapur has on numerous occasions found itself short of, or stocked-out of, ARV drugs meant for the PLHIV community to help them attain viral load suppression as per the 90-90-90 UNAIDS target.
“According to the latest status of the drug in question, Atazanavir and Ritonavir, faced a complete stock (sic) during the month of October last which resulted in an outburst among the PLHIV community resulting in a flash mob protest, following which the drug was replenished though in insufficient quantity. This shortage continued till mid January 2019 whereby the PLHIV communities on this regimen were always issued doses for few days only instead of the expected duration of one month’s dosage.
“This led to untold hardships of making numerous visits to the centre for their dose collection. Even during this trying period, there was no fruition regarding the plight of the PLHIV community, resulting in ‘complete stock out’ of the drug on the 18 Jan and the PLHIV community were made to switch to another substitute drug called Lopinavir. It has also been learnt that few of them who were able to afford the cost of the drug were buying it at a cost of INR 2300 per month, while the majority of those who are not financially sound are bearing the crunch of the stock outs, and simply hoping that the matter be addressed by NSACS at the earliest time,” the statement read.
Such past incidents of different ARV drug stock-outs have also led to filing of petition in the Gauhati High Court kohima Bench in 2018, and the proceedings of the case is ongoing, the foundation reminded.
It questioned the NSACS and the Nagaland government about the delay in appointing ombudsman/s as per the HIV/AIDS Act of 2017.