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Government procures new ART drug with less side effects

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By Anna Chibamu

HEALTH and Child Care Minister, Obadiah Moyo says government has acquired a new drug for people living with HIV.

He was giving a ministerial statement in Parliament recently following concerns some people surviving on ART were developing bodily deformities after taking the life-prolonging drug.

Moyo told MPs through Sports Minister Kirsty Coventry that government had acquired a new drug known as dolutegravir (DTG).

The Minister said government had a responsibility to protect patients by selecting the best available drugs for everyone based on safety, cost and global market availability.

“With the discovery of more effective and safer ARVs, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has recently introduced a new ARV drug known as dolutegravir, in short DTG which is more tolerant for people mostly living with HIV because it has less side effects.

“DTG is effective and causes a rapid treatment response with evidence of viral suppression,” said Moyo.

The minister said abnormal distribution of fat among people living with HIV was one of the side effects of some ARVs that were used during earlier years when ART was introduced in the country.

He said government has since phased out most of those drugs as recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO).

“These medicines that include stophavine and donus were phased out of our national programme some years back and therefore we stopped buying these drugs.

“However, patients who were experiencing severe cases of abnormal body fat distribution were advised to consult a specialist physician for medical advice.

“We select the best available ARV regimes for people living with HIV in Zimbabwe based on their safety, availability in the global market and cost.”

According to Moyo, the ministry regularly updates its national treatment guidelines informed by evidence and safety of the medicines from scientific research on most effective treatment for people living with HIV.

“We normally adapt treatment recommendations from the World Health Organisation as advised by the multi-disciplinary team of experts from our own Zimbabwe National Medicines and Therapeutic Policies Advisory Committee.”

The Ministry of Health and Child Care has successfully rolled out the ART programme with over 1.1 million people receiving the life-long treatment.

Norton MP Temba Mliswa however expressed concern over the way the ARV situation has been handled by government.

“The issue of HIV is very sensitive and I don’t think we want the nation to think that we take it lightly. The ARV situation right now has not been good and the Minister must respond,” fumed Mliswa.