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Zimbabwe running
out of anti-HIV drugs

Zimbabwe running
out of anti-HIV drugs

Zimbabwe's National Pharmaceutical Company is stretched for funds to purchase antiretroviral drugs for the government's treatment of HIV patients, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reports. Zimbabwe is experiencing food, fuel, and foreign currency shortages and an almost 1,000% inflation rate. International sanctions have been levied over claims of political repression in Zimbabwe, which President Robert Mugabe denies.

The pharmaceutical firm is Zimbabwe's main medicine repository. Of the $7.4 million it requested from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe between January and March, just $106,000 has been allocated, the Herald reports.

"There are 20,000 people on the antiretroviral national program, and we have less than a month's supply of the vital drugs, and that is not encouraging," Charles Mwaramba, the company's acting director, was quoted as telling a group of visiting members of parliament.

Neither health minister David Parirenyatwa nor Mwaramba was available for comment.

"We understand that drugs are also competing with other items like fuel for foreign currency, but the picture is not encouraging," said Mwaramba. A grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria to provide anti-HIV drugs to another 25,000 patients will not be available until January. Drugs to ease pain and treat tuberculosis and high blood pressure are also scarce, he said.

Last month, private hospitals boosted patient fees by 100% to 1,000%, and two major government hospitals were forced to ration food after a food supplier stopped deliveries over an unpaid debt. (Reuters)

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