New UNAIDS boss calls for uninterrupted access to ARVs

By John Agaba

Added 6th August 2017 09:40 AM

Drug shortages have been reported in Mpigi, Mityana and Kumi districts among others.

Arvs 703x422

Drug shortages have been reported in Mpigi, Mityana and Kumi districts among others.

(Photo credit: AFP)


The new United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) boss to Uganda Karungari Kiragu-Gikonyo called for “uninterrupted” access to ARVs, amid reports that a number of facilities in the country choked on stock-outs, which threatens to throw the response in jeopardy.

Patients on ARVs need to maintain continuous treatment, where they take their medication as prescribed by the physician else they can develop resistance.

Speaking to the media after a meeting with the Ugandan foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa, the UNAIDS country director who takes over from Amakobe Sande said “everyone who needs ARVs needs to access them, and the access ought to be seamless.”

She said she was confident in the Ugandan health ministry and that the office would institute systems so there were no patients skipping treatment because of shortages at health facilities.

New Vision first reported AIDS drug stock-outs early this year, which the health ministry attributed to the test-and-treat intervention they had just rolled out but said shortages would even out at the turn of the financial year in July after they got more funds for drugs.

It is now a month since.

New UNAIDS country director Karungari Kiragu-Gikonyo
addresses a press conference in Kampala

Shortages have been reported in Mpigi, Mityana and Kumi districts among others.

But the AIDS control programme manager Dr. Joshua Musinguzi said some of the facilities that report stock-outs “order for few drugs”, highlighting gaps in distribution of medicines in the country.

Nonetheless, Kiragu-Gikonyo said UNAIDS commended Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni for the leadership and “exceptional” initiative (Presidential Fast Track Initiative) to end AIDS by 2030.

“The Five Point plan on ending AIDS as a public health threat in Uganda, which was launched on June 6 in Kampala, outlines key subject areas in revitalising HIV prevention and closing the tap of new infections particularly among girls, young women and men.”

 “(The plan also looks at) elimination of mother-to-child transmission, implementation of test-and-treat which is expected to rapidly scale up coverage of HIV treatment services in the country, and ensuring domestic financing sustainability for the HIV response,” she said.

The new UNAIDS country director said Uganda firmly placed itself on course to achieving the 90-90-90 target — where 90% of people living with HIV know their status; 90% of those diagnosed positive are sustained on ARVs; and 90% of those on ART have undetectable viral load.
“With the men lagging behind, I appeal to the government and partners in the fight against AIDS to accelerate the campaign against the scourge. More efforts should be focussed on having men go for HIV counselling and testing and treatment so that we can achieve the 90-90-90 target for 2020,” she told reporters.


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