The Non-State Actors for Health and Development (NSA)-Ghana has asked government to provide blanket tax waivers for all planned shipment of donor supported Anti-Retroviral (ARV) medications.
This according to the group, will facilitate the quick clearance of ARVs as soon as it arrives at the port, and address issues of shortage of medications for persons living with HIV and AIDS.
The group said presently, there was shortage of ARVs in the Eastern and Ashanti Regions, and children living with HIV in Greater Accra, Ashanti, Eastern and parts of Brong Ahafo Regions have also not had access to pediatric ARVs for a month.
Madam Cecilia Senoo, President of the NSA-Ghana, told the media in Accra on Wednesday that 15 different shipment of ARVs that arrived at the ports between July 31 and December 1st this year have still not been cleared.
“Donors sent in 64,992 packs of ARVs by sea which arrived at the port on July 31, another 4,000 packs of shipment arrived on October 22 and about 26,568 packs of ARVs, which got in on November 25, are all sitting at the port while people are in need of the medication,” she said.
She said Medication for Persons Living with HIV and AIDS were rationed at the various health facilities across the country due to delays in the clearance of the ARVs.
The NSA- Ghana, together with the Network of Persons Living with HIV and the Young Health Advocates, earlier this month held a press conference to announce the shortage of ARVs in some parts of the country.
Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, Director General of the Ghana Aids Commission, has however debunked media reports of the shortage, saying there were enough ARVs in the various health facilities.
He blamed the shortage of ARV medications at the health facilities to delays by regional health authorities in picking the medications from the Central Medical Stores, stating that the government gave waivers in November to clear HIV medicines at the port.
Madam Senoo said the NSA-Ghana was aware that there was a supply chain mechanism in place which ensures planned distributions of commodities such as ARVs from the central to the regional level.
“The shortage of ARVs and the pediatric ARVs cannot be as a result of regional authorities not picking the drugs, we have been informed that although suppliers have started supplying ARVs on credit, they have not been assure of receiving their payments in full after the supply,” she said.
Madam Senoo called on the government to fully adhere to its co-financing obligations in the provision of ARVs to persons living with HIV and AIDS by purchasing and distributing medications on time.