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Lydia Shekighenda, IPP media: Tanzanian Minister refutes ARVs misuse claims

Tanzanian Minister refutes ARVs misuse claims
by Lydia Shekighenda, August 11, 2011

photo: Health and Social Welfare deputy minister Dr Lucy Nkya

The government has refuted as unfounded claims that anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) were being widely used for mixing with animal feeds to make livestock grow fast.

Health and Social Welfare deputy minister Dr Lucy Nkya rebutted the claims yesterday when responding to a question by Faida Bakari (Special seats, CCM), who had inquired about the government stance on what she described as ‘livestock keepers’ growing tendency to mix ARVs with animal feeds’.

In her question, the special seats legislator also decried the tendency, saying it caused unnecessary shortages of the drugs among people living with the disease currently receiving supplies through designated centres across the country.

She backed her claims with testimonies made during the World Aids Day held in Mbeya region last year, where people living with the disease complained bitterly about shortages of the drugs, citing a growing practice of mixing ARVs with animal feeds.

In her response, Dr Nkya said it wasn’t true that mixing animal feeds with ARVs made livestock to grow fast, threatening to take legal action against all those misusing the essential drugs.

“According to scientific researches, the drugs cannot make animals to grow fast as claimed …I call upon the public to do away with such unfounded beliefs,” stressed the deputy minister.

She explained that the government through Mbeya regional office and her ministry had already investigated the claims through two different independent committees, but they had all concluded that the claims were unfounded.

Dr Nkya said the investigations were conducted in five centres with a big number of HIV patients in Mbeya and covering a scientifically authentic sample of 104 out of 500 patients using ARVs, workers, livestock keepers and journalists.

She said that the investigation teams also inspected the documents for hospital ARVs records at medical stores and the centres registered for providing the drugs.

“I would like to inform the Parliament that the reports that livestock keepers in Mbeya region are mixing ARVs with their animal feeds are false,” Nkya informed the House.

She said that the government would continue making close follow-ups to the claims to ensure that all medicines, including ARVs, were being used for their intended purposes, not otherwise.

Dr Nkya stressed that the government would not hesitate to take legal measures against any person discovered to be using any medicine contrary to its specified use.

“The government, in collaboration with other stakeholders will ensure that all HIV/Aids patients registered to receive ARVs get the drugs without any inconveniences,” stressed the deputy minister.

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