By Paidamoyo Chipunza and Kudzai Chinyandura
The National Aids Council (NAC) has appealed to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to prioritise and increase foreign currency allocation for procurement of medicines amid revelations that it owes its foreign suppliers about $6,4 million for medicines.
In its 2017 audited financial statement, NAC’s vice board chairperson Mrs Virginia Samkange said the council’s total income for 2017 was $44,3 million, of which $36,4 million was from Aids levy collections.
“The operating environment was characterised by limited supply of foreign currency, a development that led to limited servicing of the council’s foreign suppliers of medicines and commodities,” said Mrs Samkange.
In a separate interview, NAC’s finance director Mr Albert Manenji said since medicines and commodities were sourced from outside the country, NAC required foreign currency to pay for them.
“Failure to get adequate foreign currency means we cannot buy medicines from our suppliers who are outside Zimbabwe,” said Mr Manenji.
Mr Manenji said NAC currently owes its foreign suppliers $6,4 million. He said although they were receiving some foreign currency from the RBZ, it was not enough to meet their demands.”We are receiving some amounts in United States dollars which are not adequate to meet our needs for medicines. We are in continuous engagements with the RBZ regarding this issue, and we hope our case will be treated as a priority and the promises to provide us with US dollars will be fulfilled soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, people living with HIV and Aids have expressed concern over “shortages” of some antiretroviral drugs.
Zimbabwe HIV and Aids Activist vice president Mr Stanley Takaona said the HIV sector has been experiencing drug shortages for the past two months, particularly the third-line drugs. “We have heard reports of shortages of third-line drugs and we have since approached the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on HIV and Aids as well as the ministry regarding the issues. Issues of foreign currency shortages, keep coming up as the reason for the shortages,” said Mr Takaona.
The latest NAC financial statement shows that 1,1 million people are on antiretroviral treatment.