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NHRC notice to Health Ministry on HIV drug shortage

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has reminded the Union Health Ministry to reply to its September 16 notice on the shortfall of life-saving drugs for HIV patients.

When issuing the notice, the commission gave the Ministry two weeks to file a reply. With no reply forthcoming, a reminder was issued on October 28, giving four more weeks.

Taking cognisance of media reports that treatment and control of HIV was being hampered by the shortage of life-saving drugs, the commission asked the Ministry for a response. Treatment and control of HIV, including dispensing drugs and testing, is handled by a government-run public health programme through 355 centres.

“However, because of a severe stock-out of life-saving medicines at these centres, treatment of HIV patients across India had taken a hit. The worst-affected centres are in Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Manipur. Out of these, government owned centres in Delhi and Mumbai cities are hit the most,” the NHRC said in a statement.

Citing media reports, the commission said the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+), a non-governmental organisation, sought emergency procurement and relocation of stocks to the government-owned centres experiencing stock-outs of anti-retroviral drugs. It sought the strengthening and streamlining of drug forecasting, procurement and supply-chain mechanism to prevent shortages.

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