For nearly five years, the country’s antiretroviral supply and distribution chain has been in disarray according to The National Network of Associations of HIV-positive persons in Congo (RENAPC).
The longest break lasted five months causing, resistances, deaths and many other opportunistic infections.
The government has sought to correct that by purchasing a batch of drugs which might still only be able to cover the needs of 13% of the patients.
Children born to mothers living with HIV are in danger, support associations including RENAPC say there is a lack of coordination of control on the storage and supply of drugs.
“The breakdown of antiretrovirals is one of the violations of the rights, that the state imposes on people living with HIV/AIDS. There are about 17,000 people who are under ARVs throughout the republic. These are all those people who, unfortunately, are in trouble because of lack of medicines. It is the whole chain: from identification to distribution and dispensing of drugs that is failing. Even storage is a problem,” said Jean-Paul Mahoungou, Executive Secretary of the RENAPC
Responding to complaints, the health ministry said the crisis is a reality, but not fate.
“It is a question of controlling the whole supply chain, of knowing the active queue, that is to say the exact number of people living with HIV in our country; Secure storage, distribution and transport of ARVs but also to neutralize the mafia circuits that endanger the lives of our fellow citizens who live chronically with this disease. The issue of ARVs has never been dealt with appropriately and many debts have been accumulated with our suppliers,” said Jacqueline Lydia Mikolo, Minister of Health and Population, before the National Assembly.
In 2017, Congo intends to set up a new purchasing center that will directly negotiate orders with ARV manufacturers, without going through intermediaries.
Congo has recorded a decline in the prevalence rate in recent years from 4.1% to 3.1%. Analysts and other experts are worried that this rate will rise again with the persistence of this breakdown of the supply chain.