20 June 2018

Liberia: HIV Drugs Shortage Hits Liberia - Aids Commission Boss Alarms

The lives of over 35,000 people living with HIV and AIDS are being put at serious risk as the country runs out of antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs, a drug given to people living with HIV and AIDS to help fight infections.

The chilling revelation was made by the Acting Head of Liberia's AIDS Commission, Theodosia Kolee.

Theodosia was speaking Monday, when she appeared before the Joint Legislative Committee on Budget to defend her budget.

She said, the situation is serious and must be addressed urgently to address the situation so as to avoid HIV/AIDS victims from dying.

"Currently we have run out of stock of HIV medication in the country. Many people at the hospital level are not receiving HIV medication and once they stop their HIV medication, they are going to have reinfection, some of them going to die, which is a serious impact on the lives of Liberians and Liberia looking at people living with HIV. So it is very important for people to see reason why we need more funding to be able to carry out our activities in Liberia," she said.

She said donor and partners working within the sector have been working extremely hard to ensure that HIV patients are cater for, adding that there is a need for the government to increase its funding toward the sector.

She pointed out that, if Liberia will be successful in meeting the Global Vision and Strategy, which provides appropriate programs are to be put in place to consider HIV and AIDS as global health threat by 2030, there is a need to critically look at the sector.

The vision among other things also calls for a Fast Track Approach in line with the 2016 Political Deceleration so that nearly 28 million new HIV infections and 21 million AIDS-related deaths would be averted by 2030.

According to the UNAIDS' Spectrum 2017 Estimates, there are about 43,000 people living with the virus in Liberia. Adults account for 39,000 (Women: 24,000 Men: 15,000), while Children are 4,000. Of this number, about 10,131 or 23% are on treatment.

The report further indicated that Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa are the three counties where the prevalence rate is high.

A little over US$62,000 is projected for the Commission under the draft 2018/2019 budget, something she said is very small taking into consideration the work the commission is doing.

Due to the limited resources allotted to the commission over the years, she informed the committee that the commission has not being able to decentralize its activities across the 15 counties.

However, following her presentation, Joint Committee members assured the commission that necessary financial action would be taken to ensure that the commission operates fully.

Meanwhile, speaking with the New Liberia, Mr. Necus Andrews, Head of the Anti AIDS Media Network, say government should roll out effort to help support the commission so as to prevent the patients from dying.

Necus is worried that things could get worse for the country if donors decide to pull out, stressing that lawmakers should help by providing appropriate resources to the commission.

He indicated that the life of people living with HIV/AIDS will continue to get worse unless government take the courage by placing real attention to the commission.

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