Anti — retroviral (ARV) drugs that are supposed to be dispensed for free by public health institutions are being diverted to the black market by some unscrupulous nurses, who are selling a month's supply for US$10, The Herald has learnt.
The theft of drugs for resale to people, who are not on the official database of beneficiaries, has created shortages, exposing the beneficiaries to resistance and other side-effects.
Cartels illegally selling the donated drugs involve nurses and other staff.
Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora who periodically visit the country during holidays are the most targeted buyers and they get the drugs without a doctor's prescription.
A nurse at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (name withheld) is currently under internal investigation for allegedly selling ARVs after his alleged WhatsApp chats with one of the patients was leaked to the authorities.
The hospital's clinical director, Dr Aspect Maunganidze, confirmed the case.
"Yes, we received the complaint and as we speak an investigating committee has been set to look into the allegations. If the committee sees merit of misconduct, then we will move to the next step, which is instituting a disciplinary hearing. So far, we have asked the accused to respond to the allegations. He has written his own report in relation to the allegations," Dr Maunganidze said.
A number of people on ARVs have complained over artificial shortages of the essential drugs.
A Zimbabwean engineer based in South Africa said: "My friend, who is based in South Africa, introduced me to a nurse at Parirenyatwa.
"My friend then gave me the nurse's number so that he could supply me with the drugs illegally for US$10," he said.
The nurse even offered with five months' supply.
Instead of paying, the man reported the case to one of the doctors.