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New Vision
Patients to miss ARVs in Masindi
Elvis Basudde
September 27, 2009
JANE Namusoke tested positive for HIV in 2004 and was put on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. Namusoke is worried because she recently learnt the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC) in Masindi, where she has been getting treatment, might close soon.

"Two months ago we were told the clinic had run out of drugs. Nowadays we get drugs for only two weeks. Sometimes we are told to wait a little longer," Namusoke says.

Established in 2003 to care for people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses, the clinic now caters for 3194 patients. Of these, 135 are children.

Dr. Chris Jary, the outgoing medical officer in charge of the clinic, says the demand for ARVs is high yet they are not getting enough supplies.

Mildmay Uganda, which provides similar treatment, recently announced closure. JCRC and Mildmay are the two major care providers for persons living with HIV in the country.

Dr. Zainab Akol, the HIV/AIDS control programme manager at the health ministry, attributes the drug shortages to an increase in the number of patients. "We now have over 100,000 yet the donors have been reluctant to release more funding," she says.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, one of the major funders of HIV programmes, suspended funding in 2005 citing mismanagement of funds.

Dr. Jay says the National Medical Store will take over the responsibility of organising and supplying drugs when JCRC pulls out.