06 September 2011
For a month government facilities have had to turn away patients who need the AntiRetroviral Therapy drugs to survive
Over 25,000 HIV patients in the city have been affected due to the lack of AntiRetroviral Therapy drugs at government hospitals such as JJ, Sion, KEM and Nair.
A 25–year–old patient who was diagnosed as HIV positive four years ago has now been forced to buy the drugs from regular pharmacists, who sell it at the market rate which is Rs 2,000 for one strip of tablets.
“Each time I have visited the hospital in the last month, I have been told that the drugs will be there the next week. It’s almost been a month now that I have had to live without the medicines,” he said.
Another patient, registered with Sion hospital, for ART, said, “It’s not just me, even my wife and son need ART. I am a labourer and can’t afford the market rate.”
The drug helps boost the CD4 counts (a specialised cell which helps in boosting the immune system) in HIV positive patients. In most cases, patients have to take two tablets daily to increase their immunity and keeps AIDS at bay.
If they miss a dose, their immune system becomes very weak and they become prone to all possible diseases, thus lowering their chances of survival.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror a senior doctor, “For HIV patients ART is like a lifeline. We have told them not to miss a single dose. However, they haven’t had medicines for the last 15 days, which puts their lives at extreme risk.”
Dr S S Kudalkar, project director with MDACS, said, “It’s been a month now that we haven’t received any medicines from NACO. “The central body has told us to purchase ART medicines privately for the time being as there is some delay in tendering this year. We hope to stock up soon.”
“For now, we have started purchasing and supplying the drugs to government hospitals. But due to paucity of funds, we can do this only for a fortnight, not on a long–term basis,” added Kudalkar.