Alice Ruziwa
TENOLAM is a drug that is prescribed for HIV and AIDS as well as, Hepatitis B and it can work alone or with other medication.
It reduces the amount of hepatitis B virus in the body.
Shortage of the Tenolam drug at government health facilities has affected over 750 000 HIV and AIDS patients on treatment and this has affected patients in a negative way, since there are high chances of developing health complications and serious side effects if introduced to a new combination of drugs.
Life Empowerment Support Organisation (LESO) executive director, Olive Mutabeni said the organisation recently conducted a survey throughout the country and found out that most HIV and AIDS patients were being turned away, due to stock depletion of the drug and in some cases the drug is due to expire.
Mutabeni said, “From the survey we carried out, most people are being turned away from government institutions due to shortage of the drug. In most health facilities, Tenolam is expiring and the one which i have is expiring in June and the government is set to destroy thousands of dollars’ worth of the drug.”
Mutabeni also goes on to say, ‘there were serious shortages at most health facilities in Matebeleland South Province and that there was also a realization that shortages of the drug had persisted in some institutions for almost a year, hence exposing HIV and AIDS patients on ART treatment. What also worries is that other institutions have the drug which they failed to use until it expired and yet in Matebeleland and some parts of Midlands have not received the drug for a long period of time.’
Tendai Westehof, the Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition co-odinator said the expiry of the drug will lead to the disruption of the treatment of people living with HIV and AIDS, hence complicating their lives. Westerhof added that, “The drug that is worth thousands of dollars will be expiring and likely to be destroyed. We wonder how as a country we came to this situation, considering that thousands of people living with HIV are still not enrolled on free ART and the new strategy towards achieving the 90-90-90 Aids universal target, is test and treat.”
“We are calling on the government to set up a commission of inquiry into the procurement of HIV treatment drugs in the country, but NatPharm and National Aids Council maintain that 60 percent of the Aids levy goes towards treatment and we get concerned that the drug expires before it’s consumed by the intended beneficiaries. How on earth can government purchase millions of ARVs and fail to roll them out to those in need until the treatment expires?”
Health minister David Parirenyatwa postulated that shortage of the Tenolam drug is a result of the introduction of new drugs, which are deemed to replace Tenolam, since patients experienced side effects on Tenolam and there is enough stock of this new regime to cater for all patients.

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