Organisations raise alarm over acute shortage of HIV/Aids drug
Sophie Njoka and George Kebaso
Organisations working with people living with HIV/Aids have raised concern over an acute shortage of Septrin, a drug that helps prevent opportunistic infections in people living with the disease.
The National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/Aids (Nephak) and the Kenya Aids NGO Consortium (Kanco) say the shortage started in April.
Rahab Mwaniki, campaign manager at Kanco said people living with HIV/Aids are required to take the drug everyday to prevent opportunistic diseases such as pneumonia and Tuberculosis but some of them cannot access it.
She said the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) has not procured the drug partly because it has not received requests from medical facilities.
“There are also challenges in the supply chain due to Covid-19 pandemic and a government restriction on importation of medical-related commodities in order to promote local production.
Mainly the challenge is bureaucracy in the procurement process and poor planning,” she said.
This means that 1.3 million Kenyans who take the drug daily are feeling the impact of the shortage.
An estimated one million adults and 300,000 children are living with HIV/Aids in Kenya
“Some of the people living with HIV/Aids are now sharing the drug because they cannot access it,” she said.
Mwaniki said other HIV/Aids drugs such as Pyrixodine used to treat Tuberculosis and Nevirapine for children are also short in supply.
Nelson Otwoma, the executive director at Nephak said the National Aids and STIs Control Programme (Nascop) has assured them that the drug will be in the country by September.
“Things are getting desperate. Medical facilities are running on empty. At least 60 per cent of our members who need the drug are not getting it,” he said.
In Mombasa, HIV/Aids patients who spoke to People Daily on condition of anonymity said they were being turned away from public hospitals because Septrin is not available.
“For the past four months, whenever we visit clinics ,we are being turned away.
Those in charge are telling us there is no Septrin and we have to source for it from private hospitals. we only receive ARVs, “said a woman