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HIV Patients in Ghana Face Drug Shortage Crisis as Government Demands Tax

Thousands of people living with HIV in Ghana are at risk of developing resistance to their anti-retroviral medication due to a shortage of the Abacavir Lamivudine regimen, a drug that helps suppress the virus and keep them healthy.

The Ghana Network of Persons Living with HIV (NAP+ Ghana) in a statement issued on October 5 raised the alarm over the situation, which they say has been ongoing since August this year.

“Our members across Ghana reported a shortage of the adult dose of ABACAVIR LAMIVUDINE in August this year,” the group indicated.

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According to NAP+ Ghana, the anti-retroviral drugs, which were bought with donor funds and should not attract tax, are being held at Ghana’s harbor awaiting a tax waiver from the finance ministry. The group said they have to pay AU TAX, ECOWAS TAX and COVID-19 TAX before they can access their medication.

The shortage of Abacavir Lamivudine has forced some HIV patients to switch to another regimen, Tenofovir Lamivudine Dolutegravir (TLD).

In an effort to address the situation, certain healthcare providers have opted to administer children’s doses of Abacavir Lamivudine, which requires patients to take 10 tablets a day instead of one.

“Our investigations revealed that in some facilities, prescribers give Abacavir/Lamivudine medication meant for children to adults. Therefore, instead of one tablet a day, they have to take five tablets in the morning and five tablets in the evening, of the children’s dose,” the group said.

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NAP+ Ghana has appealed to the government and other stakeholders to intervene and expedite the release of the drugs at the harbor.  They warned that if the situation is not resolved soon, it will spell doom for the country’s efforts to end AIDS by 2030.

“We entreat all radio and television stations; traditional media and stakeholders to join the Network of Persons Living with HIV to call on the government for an immediate waiver of all taxes and release of medications at the harbor,” the group appealed.

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