A community-based organisation for people living with HIV, CoNE (Community Network for Empowerment) strongly condemned the state government for not addressing the ART drug stock-out issues effectively in the state.
Addressing the media in a press conference held in Imphal in January president of CoNE, RK Nalinikanta said that the ART programme was started from last two decades but the state has been facing the problem of ART, a lifesaving drug for PLHIV, stocking out the issue from time to time. Since last year June, ART patient has been suffering from the problem of ART shortage and to date, the state government is not solving the problem sincerely.
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He further said that there are as many as 13,000 ART patients in the state of Manipur. The Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MACS) justified that the ART shortage is not encountered by all ART patients. Only the patient who consumes the drug abacavir (one of the drug regimens of ART) is facing the problem. But as per the report of the MACS, the number of patients who depend on this drug is around 15 per cent of total ART patients.
“Being a CBO, CoNE has been receiving complaints from various corners that as a stop-gap arrangement, the state government prescribed ART drugs for paediatric to adult. They also heard of switching the regimen of the drugs according to availability which is clinically, ethically and medically unacceptable. This treatment failure is almost similar to committing a crime,” he added.
He also informed that the National AIDS Control Society had already launched a programme Multi Medicine Dispensing programme that medicine has to be distributed for three months in once. But due to the absence of adequate stock of drugs, the service provider is provided after every week or 10 days. This system gives immense trouble to patients who came from far-flung areas.
ART patients were unable to raise the issue despite the fact that the Ombudsmen was appointed because of the fear of cancelling their therapy, he alleged and draws the attention of the health minister to take the matter seriously and deal with it effectively.
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