We have enough anti-retroviral drugs in Benue- says Official

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anti-retroviral drugsThe Benue Government says it has enough Anti-Retroviral (ART) drugs in all designated hospitals in the state.

The Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Orduen Abunku, said this in a phone  interview with Naija247news.com in Makurdi on Tuesday.

Abunku, who was reacting to allegations of shortage of anti-retroviral drugs in the state, said the state had never lacked HIV and AIDS drugs to distribute to patients since the inception of the programme.

“The government of Benue has never lacked anti-retroviral drugs to distribute to people living with HIV and AIDS in the state since the beginning of the programme.

“The people who staged that protest were mischief makers who we don’t know whether they are living with the virus.

“This government is primarily focused on providing quality and affordable health care facilities to all the citizens with no exception. So the people living with HIV and AIDS are as well cared for.

“If there is any challenge of that nature, we will inform our people,’’ the commissioner said.

He appealed to people living with the virus to visit any of the designated hospitals in the state and collect their drugs.

Abunku said that those living with the virus should report the management of any hospital that failed to do so for necessary actions.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some aggrieved patients last week besieged the premises of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Makurdi, to press for government’s intervention.

Mrs Kasevhemba Aondoakaa, the spokeswoman of the aggrieved patients, expressed had shock that the government had abandoned them at this critical moment.

Aondoakaa, a teacher said that the insensitive position of the government toward their plight had left them with no option than to embark on the protest.

“For two good months now, no single drug has been given to us. Our regular test has not been carried out either.

“They keep on telling us that there are no drugs to give us. We are tired of hearing all these stories.

“We want the president and the minister to do something about this issue,’’ she said.

The Head of Clinical Services at the FMC, Dr Petelu Inunduh, had said the issue was beyond the hospital management.

Inunduh explained that the programme was initially handled by the AIDS Prevention Initiative Nigeria (APIN).

He said that as a result of the regionalisation exercise in 2013, the centre was handed over to the Centre for Integrated Health Programme (CIHP) by the Centre for Diseases Control (CDC).

“From the beginning of the programme, our centre was under APIN but was later handed over to CIHP in 2013 as a result of the regionalisation exercise.

“We have over 15,000 patients on ART list and over 27,000 who are also collecting their drugs at our centre.

“When we were handed over to the CIHP in 2013, they declined to take over on the ground that they lacked capacity to run the centre.

“Subsequently, we were again handed over to the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria (IHVN) but the marriage has failed to yield positive result.

“Since their takeover, there has been erratic supply of drugs, laboratory reagents, and lack of funds to manage the laboratories,’’ he said.

Inunduh said the management had held series of meeting with the stakeholders with the aim of addressing the problem.