50 districts experiencing shortage of HIV test kits

By: Agatha Ayebazibwe and Marvin Kirunda

Kampala: The country is experiencing a shortage of HIV testing kits.

According to the Uganda Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines, an umbrella of several civil society organisations, more than 50 districts have been facing a shortage of the kits since November 2013.

Kamuli, Kasese, Kamwenge, Lyantonde, Pallisa, Budaka, Bushenyi, Soroti and Lira are some of the districts that have reported a shortage of kits since December 2013.

However, the National Medical Stores (NMS) spokesperson, Mr Dan Kimosho, said the shortage cannot be explained by the agency, adding that they supplied the kits depending on the needs of the districts from the data generated by the Ministry of Health.

He also blamed the shortage on what he called a ‘racket of thieves’ who steal and sell the kits in neigbouring countries.

Ministry of Health spokesperson, Rukia Nakamatte said the ministry is crosschecking with NMS to establish the cause of the said shortage. She said in August 2013, there was documented shortage of the test kits worth one million dollars (Shs2.5b).

“The matter is now being handled at Cabinet level” Ms Nakamatte said.

Ms Alice Kayongo, a regional policy manager for the Aids Healthcare Foundation, warned that the absence of the testing kits will have dire consequences in the fight against HIV/Aids.

“If you cannot test, all the other interventions will be in vain since it becomes hard to know one’s status and the number of HIV-positive patients,” she said.

Source: Daily Monitor

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