When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in the early months of 2020 in Tanzania, everyone was scared. The pandemic caused more burdens to vulnerable groups who have previously faced challenges in fulfilling their basic needs, such as access to health and economy.
While the government announced on July 13, 2021, that Tanzania, which began issuing such data after a long silence reported 858 cases of Covid-19 and 29 deaths, some HIV victims no longer wanted to visit health centers for antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for fear of contracting yet another deadly disease.
Ms Oliver Siza, 54, a resident of Arusha city council, was worried. She has been living with HIV for more than 30 years and at this time, she only had supplies of medicine to last a month.
She tells The Citizen that with the way the media platforms and community members started talking about the new Covid-19 pandemic, she felt her days were numbered and she had better just stay home and wait for her unknown fate.
“First, I knew that my end times had arrived after a long stay with HIV, the second is that when we don’t have medicine for a few months we have to come to the clinic often,” she says. “This increases my expenses but also raises my chances of contracting Covid-19.”
Realizing such an ordeal, the government through the ministry of health began implementing a multimonth dispensing system across the country as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The system for the Arusha region is being implemented by the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and EngenderHealth through the USAID-Boresha Afya project.
As a result, when Ms Siza visited St. Elizabeth Clinic in Arusha town, her doctor, Frederick Mushi informed her that she would qualify for multimonth dispensing of HIV treatment.
“Because of Covid-19, a patient in good health who takes their treatment daily can now be prescribed HIV medicine for more than three months, and for some patients we can give them up to six months,” Dr Mushi explains.
SOURCE: THE CITIZEN.