Shortage of HIV/Aids drugs a human rights issue

The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) is greatly concerned by reports that HIV/Aids patients have been left short-changed in their treatment regimens due to shortages of drugs.

Seropositive patients, who should access a second line drug – Abacavir – due to their bodies’ resistance, or reaction to first line drugs, are being given a week’s supply instead of three months’ supply.

This is a serious human rights issue given health rights are guaranteed in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)’ Article 25 (1) and Section 76 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

Section 76 (2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe specifically says that, “Every person who has a chronic illness has the right to have access to basic health care services for the illness.”

Article 25 (1) of the 1948 UN Declaration avows that, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family…including medical care…”

The Abuja Declaration of April 2001 of the African Union stipulates that African countries should allocate 15% of the annual budgets to health, as a minimum, but for 2017 Zimbabwe allocated 6.68% to health, half of the Abuja agreed percentage.

Due to various government and non-governmental initiatives, Zimbabwe had made significant strides in taming the pandemic, which are on the verge of backsliding, due to drug shortages, with dire consequences to many people.

The government has a serious responsibility to manage the health crisis in Zimbabwe, which has previously manifested in health practitioners’ strikes, and now risks engulfing its HIV/Aids mitigation.

In a country in which political leaders frequent foreign medical facilities, the current state of the health sector is rather worrying, and calls for better leadership and vision, and prioritisation of public funds towards health to save lives.

Source: Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights)

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