Drugs shortages unacceptable

IT is unacceptable that Zambia must begin the new year on the  sad note of drugs shortage at various health facilities, says Treatment and Advocacy Literacy Campaign (TALC) executive director Felix Mwanza.

Mr Mwanza said it made sad reading that even life-saving drugs like Antiretroviral could run out at some health institutions, thereby putting the lives of the people at great risk.

“It makes sad reading to go to a health centre only to be told that there are no drugs, although it is not surprising because we have been talking about the continuous drugs shortage including life-saving medicines like ARVs in health facilities for sometime now,” he said.

He said there was need for Government to establish effective supply chains at district levels to bring drugs closer to the people.

Mr Mwanza said as an organisation, TALC had engaged authorities in drugs management in Zambia to help set up local hubs in provinces as well as at district levels for quick disbursement of medicines to the needy.

He said it was unfortunate that health facilities should experience shortages of vital medicines like ARVs whose absence posed a great health risk to people living with HIV.

Mr Mwanza said it had remained a puzzle how the Ministry of Health had failed to properly manage drugs disbursement to satisfy public needs, thereby increasing pressure on the country’s poor who could not afford to buy the medicines in chemists.

He said even accessibility to the current medical hubs in Lusaka and provincial centres were restricted despite TALC being a major stakeholder in the management of HIV positive people.

“We call on powers that be to strategize and counter these shortages. We need to see health needs of the people being given priority as was seen with ballot papers and other electoral materials during the presidential election.

“Can we also see essential medicines and other utilities being airlifted to needy places in times of shortages?” he said.

He said there was need to open up the medical storage facilities to stakeholders to assure members of the public of constant availability of stocks, and also to speed up the distribution process.

Recent media reports have indicated that public health facilities have run out of essential drugs including ARVs for children, despite Government and the Medical Stores Limited affirming that the country’s  drug stocks were more than sufficient.

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