HIV patients’ death toll alarming
…Mother-Child transmission, no longer feasible due to dearth of
niverapine, others in private hospitals
There are strong indications that the number of deaths among HIV/AIDS patients in Imo State is very much on the increase since the closure of government hospitals in Imo State coupled with the strike action embarked upon by Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in the State.
Nigerian Newsguide authoritatively gathered that these HIV patients who visit general hospitals in the state to collect their anti-retroviral drugs no longer have access to these essential drugs that kept them going over the years as a result of the NMA strike and official closure of hospitals in Imo State by the government since December 21st 2020.
These people living with HIV/AIDS have their designated drug collection centers in various general hospitals in the state and usually go there to collect drugs at least once in a week but with the closure of hospitals and NMA strike, they are now at the mercy of private hospitals who do not have the anti-retroviral drugs simply because they are not permitted or allowed to distribute same.
Checks by our reporter indicated that Specialist Hospital Umuguma which is one of the biggest and best centers for the collection of this critical HIV/AIDS drugs are still under lock and key since December 21st 2020. And with this development, these people living with HIV who need special care and attention are now reportedly dying in various private hospitals in the state.
As bad as the case is in Imo, the mother to child transmission prevention which is aimed at ensuring that the positive mothers do not infect their babies right from the womb and upon delivery is now a thing of the past among these special group of people.
A particular drug called niverapine which is usually supplied from World Health Organization and other international health donor agencies and distributed by government hospitals is no longer available for administration on these patients due to the NMA strike and covid-19 partial lockdown.
A particular HIV patient who refused to give her name confided in our medium that despite the huge amount of money charged in private hospitals during child delivery by HIV positive mothers, they are not able to administer this essential drug called niverapine. She called on the state government to make haste to open the hospitals as soon as possible and find a way to end the NMA strike, adding that the death toll among HIV patients is actually alarming due to poor medical attention.
Several calls put across to Imo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mrs. Damaris Osunkwo on Thursday, 14 January 2021 at about 6pm for comments yielded no positive report as at Press time. Someone, a supposedly male who claimed to be her personal aide in hush tones told our reporter that the woman was in a meeting and had no time to respond.