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The Jakarta Post: Govt blames hospitals for poor distribution of ARV drugs

Govt blames hospitals for poor distribution of ARV drugs
from The Jakarta Post, August 9, 2011

The government said lethargic hospital managements were to blame for the poor distribution of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs desperately needed by people with HIV.

Health Ministry director general of communicable diseases, HM Subuh, said ARV service centers in hospitals frequently sent late reports on ARV drug shortages, resulting in delays in getting ARV drugs from a central distributor to the service centers.

He said that this year, service centers at five hospitals in five regencies in three provinces — West Kalimantan, Gorontalo and South Sulawesi — did not report that they had run out of ARV drugs or had low stocks to the ministry’s Directorate General of Communicable Diseases.

“They forgot to examine their stock. Once they checked, they had run out for some time,” Subuh said.

As a result, service centers were forced to wait before receiving more ARV drugs because distribution took around a week. “In Jakarta, it only takes one day,” Subuh added.

He said service centers had to report once ARV buffer stocks had decreased to 50 percent.

State-owned pharmaceuticals firm PT Kimia Farma distributes ARV drugs imported from India to 217 ARV service centers nationwide.

“We import 20,000 doses of ARV drugs from India because India is one of several Asian countries producing the drugs under a WHO license,” Subuh said.

He added that the government allocated Rp 120 billion (US$14.1 million) to buy the drugs, with an additional Rp 30 billion from international funds. Subuh said there were an estimated 189,000 Indonesians with HIV/AIDS, 20,000 of who receive ARV therapy.

Novian from the NGO People Infected with HIV Network (Jothi) said Kimia Farma and the ministry’s Directorate General of Communicable Diseases were to blame for the delays.

“The government is not serious about addressing the issue. Kimia Farma has all the data on ARV drugs needed by hospitals each month. They could be more active about monitoring and not just wait.”

Jothi claimed several service centers in Yogyakarta, Jambi and East Nusa Tenggara gave expired ARV drugs to patients due to the poor distribution.

Novian said that in July, doctors at Yogyakarta’s Sardjito Hospital gave ARV drugs that had expired in May to patients. “Doctors said the drugs could be used three months after the expiration date,” he said.

Earlier this year, 40 HIV-positive children below the age of five at WZ Yohanes Hospital in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, were given ARV drugs intended for adults, which could have an adverse effect on their immune systems. (fem)

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