Ivory Coast’s battle for antiretroviral drugs

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The political situation in Ivory Coast remains complex and now the country is facing problems with the supply of medicines. Indeed, a serious problem is arising with the antiretroviral drugs that are needed by patients being treated for HIV. There is the logistical problem of course, but not just that. NGOs are concerned about the effects that political instability could have on support from donors…

The supply of antiretrovirals was seriously disrupted by the blockades and confrontations between the supporters of the elected president Alassane Ouattara and those of Laurent Gbagbo. As a result, in many regions of the country, people who are HIV-positive no longer have access to the treatment they need.

The Ivory Coast network for people living with HIV/AIDS has expressed concerns, explaining that “Interruption of treatment can lead to resistance to drugs and the country’s health system is not fully equipped to deal with this”. And if the situation doesn’t soon improve, “we will be looking at a genuine disaster”, the organisation added.

As far as donors are concerned, the situation could eventually put continued funding in danger. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is continuing to supply and distribute vital treatment. Nevertheless, it has already taken measures to safeguard its stocks and funds in Ivory Coast. And the World Bank has reacted by closing its offices in Abidjan.

Since 2008, HIV/AIDS treatment has been entirely covered by the Ivory Coast government and this, of course, has been largely thanks to funding provided by international donors. In 2010, the number of people treated was estimated at 104,000. As Nathalie Sadia Gahaley, executive director of the NGO Lumière Action, reminds us We can expect serious consequences for patients if support from donors is compromised.

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