By Max Patrico Ocaido
People living with HIV/AIDs virus have resorted to sharing doses as a result of shortage of Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in hospitals in Kyotera district, Central Uganda.
While raising a matter of National Importance on the floor of parliament, newly elected Kyotera Woman MP Robinah Ssentongo revealed the ordeal of people in her district who are receiving half doses of ARVs in a bid to contain the current shortage of drugs in hospitals in Kyotera.
"During my campaigns, I was told ARVs are not enough and that they are sharing doses. But I thought this vice had been cursed until I went to Kaliisizo hospital yesterday (Monday) and found that ARVs were always on stock outs and patients would be given a dose of only 2 weeks," Ssentongo said as MPs looked on in surprise.
"I found patients stranded in Kaliisizo without ARV drugs having walked for a long distance to come and pick them. My fears were even escalated by the hospital in-charge who confirmed that they were indeed suffering from this crisis that has been caused by regulated supplies from NMS (National Medical Stores)."
NMS is an autonomous Corporation that is mandated to Procure, Stores & Distribute Essential Medicines and Medical Supplies to all Public Health Facilities in the Country.
This is not the first time, hospitals in Kyotera and Rakai districts have run short of ARV drugs. In 2007, more than 250 people were stranded at the same government hospital-Kaliisizo after the Trio-mine 30; an Anti-Retro Viral drug ran out of stock.
In her response, Sarah Opendi, state minister for Health (General Duties) said that the country has adequate quantities of ARVs, and the challenge emanates from the outdated quantities of patients and in some cases misuse of ARVs.
"We have adequate quantities of ARVs, the problem is that some districts have not adjusted on the quantities they need. They should come up with adequate quantities and give them to NMS," Opendi said.
She also cautioned patients against picking their ARVs and using them to feed their animals.
"We have also collected information that some people collect these ARV drugs and feed them on pigs and chicken. This is a matter we are also investigating and that could be one problem of these shortages," she added.
A recent UN report on HIV situation in Uganda indicated that Uganda registers 230 HIV new infections a day and despite widely available anti-retroviral therapy, 76 people die of AIDS-related causes every single day.
In 2016, a similar report from Global information and education on HIV and AIDS showed that an estimated 1.4 million people were living with HIV, and an estimated 28,000 Ugandans died of AIDS-related illnesses while the estimated HIV prevalence among adults (aged 15 to 49) stood at 6.5%.
Whereas there has been a gradual increase in the number of people living with HIV accessing treatment, as of 2016 around 33% of adults living with HIV and 53% of children living with HIV were still not on treatment, according to the same report.