Community orgs raise concerns over frequent 'out of stock' ART medicines


Five different community organisations have raised their concerns against the indifferent attitude of the State Government over the frequent stock out of ART medicines in the State while appealing the Government to maintain ART buffer stock.
The frequent stock out has been directly linked with drug adherence issue and further escalates the spread of HIV for those on ART, whose viral load should be at an undetectable rate and curtailed by ART medicines.
Addressing the media persons at Manipur Press Club on Monday, CoNE president Nalinikanta RK said that the State Government has taken up various initiatives for the people living with HIV by initiating free ART roll out in the State since 2004 and second line ART from 2008.
However, the Government have sidelined the loopholes which are clearly visible in the entire process itself while trying to highlight such achievements, he alleged.
Although the Government has been providing free ART and saving the lives of people living, yet the frequent stock out issue has made many of the people living with the disease resistant to the drug they are consuming compelling them to switch their regiment from first line to second line and third line until there is no option for them but to ultimately die, Nalinikanta said
He further informed that the stock out issue was discussed threadbare during the State Grievance Redressal Committee Meeting (SGRC) held at Old Secretariat conference hall, chaired by the Principal Secretary of Health where resolutions were also adopted.
But despite the assurance given during the meet to look into the matter, no positive actions have been taken up till date.
The High Court of Manipur on August 29, 2019, also directed all the ART centres in the State to maintain at least three months buffer stock of ART medicines but the authorities still fail to adhere to the directive, he claimed.
Nalinikanta also informed that out of the total number of people living with HIV who are on ART (13,075) only around 1600  have been started being monitored for viral load which is very less comparing with UNAIDS 90:90:90 target.
The initiative taken up by the State Government needs to be scaled up, he asserted.
MNP+ president L Deepak said that according to the technical report of the India HIV Estimate 2017, there are about 31549 people living with HIV in Manipur out of which 13,075 of them are on ART as of October 2019.
According to the estimate, there are, at present, 18474 people who are living with HIV but have not started ART yet.
As such, when a high number of people living with HIV are not under ART, in addition to the frequent ART stock out, it will not be possible to achieve the 90:90:90 target for 2020 to end AIDS by 2030 as set by UNAIDS, Deepak said.
He added that maintaining three months buffer stock of ART and adherence by the patients and providing ART to the left out people is necessary.
He also highlighted that the outdated and unreliable CD4 machines installed in both RIMS and JNIMS.
The representatives of the five NGOs also pointed out the need for the Government to get all the stakeholders together and solve the issue of ART stock out.
As per the 90-90-90 campaign, 90% of all people living with HIV should know their status; 90% of all those who are diagnosed HIV positive to be on sustained antiretroviral treatment (ART) and 90% of those on ART having an undetectable viral load.
The frequent ART stock out, is one of the issue which has really hampered the drug adherence, maintained the organisations.
It further underlined the need to form a committee comprising members from the community, ART centre and the Manipur State AIDS Control Society which will regularly monitor stock out issue of ART in all the ART centres across the State.
As such, the authority concerned will be pushed to organize a consultative meeting involving community organisations, ART staff and officials of MSACS at the earliest.
The function was also attended by SASO president Y Sashikumar, Kripa Society president H Dinesh, MNP+ general secretary S Udita and Care Foundation General secretary Th Jotin.
The press meet was organised jointly by Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+), Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE), Social Awareness Service Organisation (SASO), Kripa Society and Care Foundation.