TODAY -

Stock of CD4 count reagents runs out
Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, July 10 2013: In spite of the hue and cry raised by people living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIVs) and those NGOs and CBOs concerned for improving the services related to HIV prevention, care and treatment, the PLHIVs in the State are yet again facing acute shortage of CD4 reagents in the ART treatment centres of the State, with the stock running out completely.

It has been reported that CD4 count reagents in the State has ran out of stock complete for the last 20-30 days, thus, compelled PLHIVs to refrain themselves from testing their CD4 count which is very much essential in administering ART medicines.

While talking to Hueiyen Lanpao, Deepak, President of MNP+, confirmed that the stock of CD4 reagents in the State has ran out completely for the last 20-30 days and PLHIVs in the State have been deprived of getting the facility for testing of their CD4 count.

"Depriving the facility to test CD4 count to a person living with HIV and AIDS is like letting him/her to die without any care and treatment", Deepak observed.

Under the AIDS treatment programme, CD4 test is a critical tool for initiating Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in PLHIVs and also to monitor whether the ART thus administered is effective or not and to work on it accordingly.

The guidelines of the National AIDS Control Organisation recommend that people with HIV should start antiretroviral treatment (ART) when their CD4 counts fall below 350 CD4 cells/mm.

The test is also to be repeated at regular intervals, he explained.

However, several centres where CD4 testing is done free of cost are now without kits or reagents.

MNP+ has been writing to NACO in this regard but in vain.

The problem of the shortage of CD4 reagents is not only faced in the State but also in other parts of the North East as well as in Delhi, UP and Maharashtra, he said.

Highlighting the reason behind the stock of CD4 reagents running out in many states, Deepak stated that procurement of HIV medicines and medical tools such as CD4 and viral load kits or reagents is done by M/s RITES Ltd, which has been contracted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for the purpose.

However, the contract has not been renewed by the Ministry for almost two years and this has resulted in serious delays in procurement of CD4 kits or reagents, he added.

The State Government should not remain silent over the matter but think of ways and means to solve the problems being faced by PLHIVs.

Even if NACO fails to provide CD4 reagents, the State Government should provide a separate budget to fill the gap, Deepak said.

"Last month, civil societies and TB activists publicly protested in front of the Ministry to highlight stock run out of TB medicines.

Now we are protesting against the stock out of CD4 kits in HIV treatment centres.

It is shocking that doctors will not be able to initiate or monitor treatment of people living with HIV.

This is unacceptable," said Deepak.

Despite CD4 count reagents running out of stock for the last 20-30 days, NACO has not given any response to the query made by PLHIV networks and IDU community, Ratan of MNP+ asserted.

If the matter is not resolved by NACO within the next 2-3 days, we would be compelled to launch protest against NACO and state authority, he warned, adding 'We don't care about their procurement policy but the stock-out problem should be resolved as soon as possible" .


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