Patients receiving Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in Manipur expressed their unhappiness with the distribution system of ART as the shortages of ARVs have not been addressed yet despite their repeated demands.
They urged the leaders of the state to discuss the matter during the ongoing Monsoon session and chart out a policy to prevent such issues from reoccurring in the future.
Speaking at a press conference at Keishampat on Tuesday, one of the patients said that the ARV distribution system in the state is causing mental depression.
She further said that the state government had announced various policies and programmes on every annual observance of World AIDS Day. Even last year, CM N Biren Singh had made an announcement to start a door-to-door ART delivery system, she recalled. But the state could not even address the problem of ART getting out of stock since April last week in the state, she said.
It appears that MACS is distributing the medicines which are available to them but not on the basis of proper composition, she said. They keep on changing the regime whenever the patients come to get the ARV, she alleged, adding, such a distribution system had made her feel scared of consuming them thinking about the possible unwanted reaction.
Another ART patient also raised the same complaint, mentioning that earlier they used to get ARV for one or three months at one-time distribution. But nowadays, they are made to visit after every two days and this has created a lot of inconveniences, the patient said, adding, the state government is urged to look into the matter seriously as ARV is the most basic requirement for their lifelong survival.
Meanwhile, in an interaction with the Imphal Free Press, project director, Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MACS) Roshita Haobam said some compositions of ARV are in a limited stock but there is no issue of acute shortage of ARV in the state. Even the shortages are being handled with care through various strategies of stock gap arrangement, she added.
She further said that the number of ART patients in the state is around 13,800, of which 11,500 of them (90 per cent of total ART patients) had switched their composition to TLD regime which is available in stock for around four months. They had changed their regime into TLD as per norm of National AIDS Control Organisation, she said.
Only 10 per cent of ART patients are facing inconveniences of low stock issues. But to deal with the situation, MACS is procuring those compositions of ARV drugs in limited stock from MSF and ITECH in the form of donations, she said. “By any means, ARV is made available to them. Yet, they could not provide them for three months or one month at one time unlike before, she added.
She said that NACO had directed every state for procurement of three different types of medicines prescribed for ART in a short notice. Following their instructions, the state government had procured the ART and they have reached Imphal, she said.
Just one type of drugs will be received in the first week of August and another procurement of drugs has also started. The state will no more face the issues caused by low stock of ARV once the second phase of procurement arrives, she added.