The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: 'ARVs Not Defective'

MSF-Belgium on Wednesday said the anti-retroviral drugs disbursed in Murambinda district were not defective. The organisation's comment comes after reports that the drugs were disbursed after MSF Supply had sent an alert following the damaged drugs to different countries. MSF Supply sent an alert to all its missions including Zimbabwe indicating that some drugs were damaged.

This is despite the fact that the boxes and containers were not damaged.

The non-governmental organisation said they did not inform the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe of the alert because they had verified that the Zimbabwean consignment was not affected.

MSF-Belgium head of mission Mr Fasil Tezera said his organisation was guided by professionalism in its service delivery.

"On the issue of batch number 1046683, when we received the alert, we verified and discovered that they were not defective," he said.

"Otherwise, of all the 23 countries which had received the same batch, only one had raised the alert. We reported back to MSF headquarters accordingly. This was an alert, not a recall."

Mr Tezera said they also verified with their consignment after another alert was sent through after a mismatch between secondary packaging content label and primary packaging content label was discovered in one of the beneficiary countries.

He said MSF-Belgium had never had cases of drugs recall except alerts.

"We receive alerts on potential defects on goods which would have been received. We then check as per the alert and then if we find any defect, we report back to MSF headquarters and inform MCAZ as per mandatory procedure outlined in Chapter 15:03," he said.

Mr Tezera said they religiously followed laid down procedures when importing drugs to make sure they would be in sync with the regulations.

On the latex gloves, which they imported into the country without MCAZ's approval, Mr Tezera said, they could have been imported before the MCAZ regulations were enacted.

MCAZ said some of the latex gloves that were imported by MSF had not been approved while others were approved but not tested.

Mr Tezera said MSF had operated in Zimbabwe since 2000 and had running programmes in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

He said MSF-Belgium had interventions in HIV, tuberculosis and drug resistant TB (DR-TB), Sexual and Gender based Violence (SGBV) interventions and emergency preparedness, located in Buhera, Gutu, Chikomba, Tsholotsho, Beitbridge, Mbare, Epworth and Gokwe North.

MSF-Belgium, he said, was assisting more than 56 000 people living with HIV across Zimbabwe.

Next week the organisation will conduct a media tour of Murambinda and other areas where it is distributing the drugs.

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