HARARE – The Covid-19 induced lockdown has caused an acute shortage of Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARV) leading to some health officials capitalising on the grave situation and selling the drugs to those on Anti Retoviral Treatment (ART) in parts of Harare and Chitungwiza, TST news can reveal.
By Onaishe Paloni
TSTnews visited Epworth and Chitungwiza posing as ART patients and the drugs were clandestinely sold in United States dollars to desperate HIV in Chitungwiza and Epworth.
This comes amid reports that the country is not receiving supplies due to the current lockdown resulting in clinics and hospitals having depeleted stock and leading to a thriving black market.
Reliable sources told TSTnews this week that the health officials (names supplied) from Chitungwiza general hospital are now withholding drugs from the hospital and later sell them on the black market to desperate patients.
“They are telling those who have come to collect their ARVs that the hospital has run out of the ARVs but then provide their runners’ contact numbers,” said the source.
“These people are making money by selling the ARVs to patients which is a crime, recently a letter was written to the hospital management so that they carry out an investigation but this did not happen,” he said.
“I feel sorry for the patients because some of them are not even able to feed themselves but they are now forced to use the little that they have for their families.
“Commercial sex workers and some privileged residents with access to United States dollars are the ones buying the ARVs ,” he added
Investigations by TSTnews in the dormitory town of Epworth at the local clinic, established that the health officers responsible for the distribution of the ARVS have clients from leafy surbubs like Borrowdale.
“State of the art vehicles are parking here and meet with the nurses and are given the ARVs in front of us,” said one patient who identified herself only as Chihera who was told that the clinic had ran out of the medication.
“This is too much, the ARVs are not supposed to be sold but the nurses at the clinic are now selling them to their friends which is not good,” she added.
Asked for comment National Aids Council (NAC) communications officer Tadiwa Nyatanga-Pfupa said her organisation is yet to get complains about the selling of ARVs.
“This is an allegation which has not yet been proved to be true,” Nyatanga Pfupa said.
The country is reported to have ran out of ARVS for mostly second line treatment and NAC is rocked with shortage of foreign currency.
The organisation is facing challenges to settle a US$6, 9 million owed to suppliers.
This was revealed by NAC acting Chief Exucutive Albert Manenji who said they were still waiting for government allocation from the ministry of finance.
“The Ministry of Finance has addressed us and pledged to pay the$6, 9 million at a rate of 1:1. So following that pledge, NAC then went to the Health ministry to check on the commitment and an amount of $2, 5 million was allocated in July. But instead of getting at 1:1, we were told we would get it at the interbank rate,” Manenji said.