By Jack Lapauve Jr – EMTV News, Port Moresby
The Secretary of Health, Pascoe Kase, released a statement today to address concerns raised in the mainstream media and within social media channels regarding an alleged shortage of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) drugs. This is the regime of drugs which are relied on by people who are living with HIV.
Secretary Kase said he was concerned with the number of ill-informed comments in the media, particularly from people who should know better.
While it was true that there were limited supply levels in the Department’s central stores this was for two reasons. The first is that all drugs are distributed by the HIV Program Teams to treatment centres around the country. It is important that adequate levels of ART drugs are maintained at clinics close to patient groups to ensure continuity of supply.
The second reason that these drugs are not held in large numbers centrally is that they are very high in cost and have demanding storage requirements. Keeping large stock levels is costly and risks losses through deterioration.
The Department maintains close cooperation with donor partners and is able to have stocks delivered into Papua New Guinea with less than two months’ notice.
The Secretary said that he had recently signed a large order for all common use ART drugs and this stock should be arriving in PNG prior to the end of May. He said that with stock levels in most clinics being between 3 and 4 months’ supply, this would leave considerable time for orderly restocking. Some clinics have additional stocks in transit to them, however, should still have adequate stocks at this time.
Secretary Kase pointed out that it was crucial that people on the ART drugs continue to take what is prescribed for them.
“The Department is doing its best with our partners to ensure medicines reach our stores and are available to those who need them.”