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Cameroon Would Continue To Ration Antiretroviral 

By Leocadia Bongben — HIV/AIDS patients in Cameroon continue to groan from the insufficient supply of antiretroviral drugs, as the Minister of Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda, says the country would continue to ration antiretroviral drugs. Instead of getting a usual molecule administered to patients, they would get a different molecule and there are fears that some may not even get the drugs.

Accompanied by the Global Fund for Malaria Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS representatives on an evaluation mission of Global Fund funded programmes in Cameroon, Mama Fouda stressed that the rationing of antiretroviral drugs would continue until November and for the situation to normalise in December.

“We are still in a period of stock rationing that is why HIV/AIDS patients in Cameroon cannot yet have a supply of antiretroviral drugs for a period of three months. We are going to continue rationing until November and in December the situation would get better” “Laboratories are functioning with zero stock, and now that the request of drugs has been made, there is a deadline for the drugs to arrive in Cameroon”. But, Mama Fouda says there is no need to get alarmed by the rationing.

However, a nurse in one of the private hospitals, who preferred anonymity, has said the situation is embarrassing, as they do not know what to tell patients. “Patients are often advised to take their drugs at the same hour every day, with the rationing the hospitals do not know what to tell the patients,” she said. But some NGO have been advising patients to eat a balanced diet as drugs are being rationed.

Mama Fouda, in August this year, did not make clear this situation when he announced the in addition to the FCFA 5 billion special allocation to purchase antiretroviral drugs and the contribution of partners amounting to FCFA 20 billion, the country would be shielded from stock-outs. For the civil society involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS, there has always been the problem of treatment and shortage of antiretroviral drugs, but in the past months, the problem was serious, and was acute for the past six months.

According to Paul Patrick Endelle, Assistant in the Department of Research Development and Communication, Positive Generation, “The reason for stock-outs is that government is not financing the fight against HIV/AIDS and health generally, since the finances are not commensurate to the level of treatment”.

The civil society wants government to take control of the fight against HIV/AIDS and provide strong financial engagements. In 2001, the Cameroon government alongside other countries took the engagement through the Abuja Declaration to dedicate 15 per cent of its budget to health. Global Fund Head of African Department, Lelio Marmora, agreed that there are financial, technical, capacity and recurrent stock-outs problems.

There are different causes and to have 125,000 patients on anti-retroviral drugs is a success to the Global Fund. However, if 860,000 persons are HIV positive and only 125, 000 are on antiretroviral drugs, the success cannot be that good. However, he maintained that there is need to make a systemic analysis of how the response to the problem of HIV/AIDS fight functions in Cameroon.

Giving an appraisal of the three programmes, Marmora said of the FCFA 300million dollars earmarked, FCFA 230million has already been disbursed. The Global Fund observes a zero tolerance to corruption, though when a huge amount of money is managed there is bound to be acts of corruption but the Global fund has a mechanism of traceability of funds and can know what is happening to the funds.

Comparing the prevalence rate in 2004 at 5,5 and in 2011 it dropped to 4.3, Marmora said this is an impact though many argue that this is in part because some of the patients have died.
The fight against Malaria saw the distribution of 8 million long lasting treated mosquito bed nets, and 12 million more would be distributed in 2014. For the Tuberculosis programme that seems to be functioning well according to the Minister, FCFA 17 billion dollars has been allocated to the programme.

Half Of Cameroonians Own Mosquito Nets

Following a study by the National Institute of Statistics, about half the Cameroonian population own long lasting treated mosquito nets. The Minister of Public Health chaired the presentation of the study yesterday at the Yaounde Hilton hotel.The study indicates that 66 per cent of the population own the bed nets, though is silent as to whether the population is really making use of the nets. Many people have the nets in the rural areas compared to the town with about 75 per cent.

First published in The Post print edition no 01466

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