Country has sufficient ARVs – health ministry

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Windhoek

The Ministry of Health and Social Services maintained yesterday that the country’s public health facilities have an adequate stock of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), despite claims to the contrary.

HIV patients this week complained that they are experiencing a shortage of ARVs, especially at Robert Mugabe Clinic in central Windhoek.

One patient, who spoke to New Era on Monday, said of late they received different types of ARVs, which they believe are the reason for some of their health problems.

“I have been feeling weak after taking those blue tablets and also I had high blood pressure, which never happened in my history of taking ARVs,” said the patient, who preferred anonymity.

She added that her neighbour went to get her ARV treatment at Robert Mugabe Clinic, but came back without the medicines because they were apparently out of stock.

“She had to rely on Moringa nutrients for the time being,” said the patient. She added that the triple single dose has also had an effect on some patients, including herself.

“We don’t know what the problem is, but this problem should be solved because HIV positive patients are not supposed to miss their treatment. Some have been missing their treatment, either because they were sent back without medication or [due to] the change of medicine,” said the female patient.

The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ester Paulus, said on Wednesday that regardless of the colour of the pills or the dose it is the same ARV medicine and hence cannot have a negative effect on patients.

“It does not matter whether the medicines were procured in Uganda or Asia, it is the same kind of ARVs,” Paulus said.

With regard to the single dose, she also explained that it is the same type of medicine, the difference being that patients are now taking one tablet and not three, as was previously the case.

Possible side effects, she said, could be due to resistance to the drugs, adding that if patients do not consistently take their medication they could experience severe side effects. She maintained that all relevant health facilities are fully stocked with ARVs.

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