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ZIMBABWE | Challenges in Switching to new ARVs Regimen

Paidamoyo Chipunza

Some health institutions in Masvingo are facing challenges in switching from an old anti-retroviral drug combination to the new regimen, thereby creating an artificial shortage of the life prolonging drugs at institutions in the province.This has resulted in some patients being turned away from hospitals.

Masvingo Provincial Medical Director Dr Robert Mudyiradima attributed the bungling to management at clinic level, saying there were enough ARVs in Masvingo just like any other province.

“It is not true that there is a shortage of ARVs in Masvingo, but what we are seeing are issues of management challenges,” he said.

“Instead of ordering the new combination of Efavirenz, some institutions are turning away patients saying they do not have stocks of Nevirapine.”

Government adopted new treatment guidelines for people living with HIV requiring all the patients to be moved from Nevirapine-based combination to Efavirenz combination owing to some side effects with Nevirapine. The initial combination included Nevirapine, Telanev and Lamivudine, but Government now requires all those taking ARVs to take a new combination of Telanev, Lamivudine and Efavirenz, which has lesser side effects.

“Yes, there is no Nevirapine because it is being phased out, but the hospitals are supposed to order Efavirenz which is replacing Nevirapine,” said Dr Mudyiradima.

He said his office has already started rectifying the situation with affected institutions such as Mucheke clinic.

“Some have since been given the right combinations and we are in the process of identifying if there are any other institutions experiencing the same problem,” said Dr Mudyiradima.

The challenges have been happening for the past weeks, resulting in patients being turned away without treatment.

People who were most affected were those collecting their drugs from council clinics in and around Masvingo town.

Government is in the process of switching patients from first line Aids treatment, where they were taking two or more tablets a day, to a single dose regime where they would take one pill per day.

About 70 000 people in Masvingo Province are on ARVs and the province’s prevalence rate stands at 14 percent.

Published: April 8 2015. By Paidamoyo Chipunza
Copyright © 2015 Herald

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