Over 40,000 HIV patients at risk as NMS fails to supply Septrine

Over 40,000 HIV patients at risk as NMS fails to supply Septrine
National Medical Stores (NMS) delivering Essential Medicines and Medical Supplies (EMHS) to Mubende General Hospital last month

The lives of more than 40,000 people living with HIV/Aids in Lira district is at stake following the failure by the National Medical Stores (NMS) to supply Cotrimoxazole alias Septrin for the past four months.

Septrin is an approved antibiotic comprised of two drugs, trimethoprim and sulphamethoxazole. It is commonly used by people living with HIV/Aids to prevent Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), isosporiasis and bronchitis.

However, a number of health facilities in Lira have not had the drug for over four months. They include among others Lira Regional Referral Hospital with about 20,000 patients, Amach H/C IV with 5200 patients, Ogur H/C IV with 7000 patients, Bar H/CIII with 3800, Aromo health Centre III with 2500 patients and Ober H/CIII with about 400 patients.

Dr. Partick Buchan Ocen, the Lira district Health Officer told this publication, that they have not received septrine from the National Medical Stores-NMS since January 2018. He says their attempts to source for the drug from the neighboring districts like Kole district hit a snag since they are equally affected.

He advises people living with HIV/Aids to consider buying septrine from private facilities as they were for supplies from the National Medical Stores.

A dose of 960 milligram of septrine for a full month in private pharmacy in Lira town costs Shillings 5000. Fred Omara, the chairperson of Persons living with HIV/Aids in Lira district has also supported the proposal to buy the drug from private pharmacies.

He however, says this comprises the health of Persons living with HIV/Aids because some of them are unable to buy the medicine. Agnes Akullu, 48, a resident of Ogur Sub County says she has missed taking the tablets for two months now. Akullu says the few tablets she had stocked got finished.

Dan Kimosho, the spokesperson National Medical Stores has confirmed the shortage of Septrin in major health facilities across the country, saying they expect to deliver the drugs after the presentation of the national budget.

The World Health Organisation adopted the use of Cotrimoxazole tablets as a preventive therapy for opportunistic infections among HIV patients in 2004. The proposal was in 2006, reinforced by WHO in a guideline document recommending cotrimoxazole prophylaxis for all infants exposed to HIV infection and all children and adults with CD4 cell counts less than 200.

Under this guideline, all infants born to mothers living with HIV must receive cotrimoxazole prophylaxis, starting at four to six weeks of age, or in their first encounter with the health care system, to be administered until the possibility of HIV infection is excluded.