“We are not ready to die now!”
Clementine Mumba in her statement on the shortage of Antiretroviral drugs in the country has said.
Mumba, who is the chairperson for the International Committee for Women Living with HIV in Zambia (ICW-HIV) said even the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) dispensary was rationing Truvada and other HIV drugs to only two weeks per patient because the hospital was running short of supplies.
“Can we hear from the President on the actual situation of ARVs in the country because we are not comfortable with the appeasement statements from the Ministry of Health which have not improved the situation,” she said.
Mumba said President Michael Sata should address the nation on the situation regarding ARVs which was getting out of hand in all districts around the country.
“It’s actually very scaring and we can’t continue like this because we don’t know if we are going to have the drugs tomorrow. The President should come out and tell the truth.
Mumba explained that the current situation with ARVs was worrying as many people have continued to receive rationed quantities of the life saving drugs from government run health facilities around the country.
“We are almost fighting with health workers because we suspect they are hiding the drugs after those assuring statements from the government that the situation is being normalised. They want to make health workers look bad.
“The government should just come out clean and tell us that there are no drugs so that we can help them help us,” Mumba said.
“So far, we know the truth is that there are no ARVs in the country. And government must own up,” Mumba said.
She accused government of turning a blind eye to the situation by keeping quiet on a matter that needed serious attention.
“We are telling on our members to keep calm, but for how long? Do they want us to go out in the streets to demonstrate for them to listen? Why not just tell the truth as stakeholders so that we know what is happening.
“We also want to walk on those roads they are building around the country; we want to use those 600 hospitals they are constructing around the country, we don’t want to die now,” she stated.
And Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) board chairperson Beatrice Grillo said it was unacceptable that government should allow the ARVs situation to reach such alarming levels in the country.
Grillo said the government had a lot of money from which they have managed to hold numerous by-elections and should not fail to normalize the supply and distribution of the ARV drugs.
“They can’t say ‘we have no money’ if they can manage so many by-elections and yet they allow people to go without life saving drugs.
“If people are given one week’s supply and with high bus fares, there is potential that others will miss out on their medication,” she said.