The US Mission has denied media reports of a pending stock-out of antiretroviral (ARV), anti-malarial, and Hepatitis B drugs.
According to a press statement from the Mission, a National Medical Stores official reportedly claimed the Ministry of Health’s introduction of the Test and Treat policy for HIV-positive patients has led to an increased demand for ARVs, which in turn has limited the availability of other drugs due to a lack of funds.
The Test and Treat guidelines, as outlined by the World Health Organization, state that all patients testing positive for HIV should be started immediately on ARV treatment upon diagnosis.
“The US Mission would like to make clear such allegations are false, as there are no linkages between the Test and Treat initiative and current drug shortages, despite any claims to the contrary,” read the press release.
It further reads that understanding that the policy would create increased demand for ARV drugs, Uganda’s Ministry of Health conducted an analysis that showed Test and Treat would not lead to any shortages or stock-outs in the current year.
“The guidelines were officially adopted in December 2016 and the Ministry will begin their implementation in January 2017. This means any monies required for additional ARVs have not yet had any effect on funding needed for other drugs,” reads the press release.
It further notes that the Government of Uganda has committed to provide $23 million to help cover the country’s ARV needs through June 2017.
Similarly, the US Government, through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) agreed to provide $11.5 million to procure ARVs so that Uganda could meet the expected demands of Test and Treat, on top of an additional $8.6 million to fill other funding gaps related to procurement.
“Assuming the Government of Uganda meets its financial obligations, the PEPFAR contribution, in conjunction with contributions by the Global Fund, would create a surplus for the purchase of ARVs in the coming year.”
“Therefore, all additional costs stemming from the anticipated increase in ARVs as a result of the Treat and Treat guidelines are covered by Government and international donor funds, though additional commitments by the Government of Uganda may be necessary,” reads the press release.
Consequently, any stock-outs which may occur, such as for anti-malarial or Hepatitis B drugs, would be the result of insufficient funding and planning for those programs and not, as has been alleged, by any orders to divert funds to HIV treatment.