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Gabon: Alarm raised on expired HIV/AIDS anti-retroviral drugs

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In Melen-Rails, a suburb of Libreville, Moussounda Nzamba leaves a meeting at the Ministry of Health for an outburst on social networks. 

Nzamba, the president of the network of NGOs for AIDS patients accuses the Gabonese authorities of distributing outdated antiretroviral drugs to people with AIDS.

Mariam Fatou Moussounda Nzamba, president of the Gabonese network of NGOs for AIDS patients:

"When I noticed this, I told my doctor on the spot that it is already expired. She told me that it is still valid for 6 months. You can consume them for 6 months you will not have any problem. Since he is my doctor, I could not contradict him. That's how I went with the boxes home and started drinking. That's where I started having trouble sleeping. I did almost three to four days I wasn't getting enough sleep. That's how I left the boxes in question.

While Gabon is still under a health emergency plan due to covid-19, the use of expired ARVs is of even greater concern to people with HIV. They fear for their lives, which are already at risk.

The presidency of the republic and the government announce that the culprits of such actions will be severely punished according to the regulations in force. An investigation has been opened.

Jessye Ella Ekogha, spokesperson for the Presidency of Gabon: "I invite you to look at the press release of the Ministry of Health which has directly initiated an investigation. This investigation now will allow us to know if there was an abuse, if there was indelicate behavior, if the situation is proven as it was said in the press release, if there was these deviant behaviors, there will be sanctions."

Africanews correspondent Géraud Wilfried OBANGOME reports that "out of 51,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Gabon, 51% or 26,000 people are said to have taken expired antiretroviral treatments. The situation worries the Gabonese network of associations of people living with HIV/AIDS. This network intends to file a complaint against the Gabonese State if appropriate solutions are not taken as soon as possible.

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