The New Times (Kigali)

12 April 2012

Rwanda: Police Thwarts Illegal Sale of HIV/Aids Drugs

Police and the Ministry of Health, Tuesday, shut down a dispensary over illegal sale of anti-retroviral drugs to a person living with HIV/Aids.

Anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) is supposed to be provided free of charge by accredited health facilities in the country, courtesy of the government.

Investigations, however, established that a dispensary, located in Kimisagara, Kigali City, was selling the drugs to unsuspecting patients.

According to Ribakare Muhayimpundu, the head of HIV and STI's care and treatment unit at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, the patient had gone for further treatment at the Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali (CHUK), when she told medics that she had bought the medication from the ill-fated Kigali dispensary.

"The patient said that a medic at that dispensary had sold to her the medicine at Rwf 40,000 yet it is supposed to be free of charge. He allegedly gave her drugs she was supposed to take for 15 days yet medication is supposed to last for a month," she explained.

Muhayimpundu said that investigations are still underway to locate the whereabouts of the medic in question and determine where he got the ARVs from.

She added that the dispensary does not fulfil all the requirements to operate as it was yet to be fully accredited.

The Ministry of Health had earlier given the facility an ultimatum after finding out they were operating unprocedurally but the dispensary failed to beat the deadline.

The dispensary was also said to be hospitalising patients illegally.

Muyahimpundu said that the ministry was vigilant underlining that health facilities and medics should avoid similar unethical and unlawful acts.

Rwanda has recorded more than 90 per cent ART coverage with drugs offered free of charge.

Police Spokesperson, Superintendent Theos Badege, disclosed that the Ministry of Health had asked the law enforcers to investigate the case.

"We have so far arrested four people regarding this case. Investigations are still underway to find out where they got the ARVs they were selling," Badege noted.

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