Health

Zim considering new generation HIV and TB drugs

ZIM TO ADOPT NEW GENERATION DRUGS IN HIV AND TB FIGHT

Harare July 30, 2012 (New Ziana) –The Zimbabwe government is considering adopting new drugs which are more effective in reducing new HIV infections and improve the Tuberculosis treatment process, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), is the first drug to reduce HIV infection in uninfected individuals who may engage in sexual intercourse with infected partners.

The government is in the process of evaluating the drug which has already been in use as anti-retroviral treatment (ART) for 12 years now.

Health and Child Welfare permanent secretary Dr Gerald Gwinji said Truvada was not yet in full use in Zimbabwe as a preventative drug because the country was still studying the drug.

“Truvada is not yet in full use in Zimbabwe as it is only limited to expectant mothers under the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme,” he said.

Gwinji said his Ministry wanted to asses the availability, efficacy and costs of Truvada just as it would any other drug.

Truvada has been internationally acclaimed for its ability to reduce chances of HIV infection by up to 75 percent.

Gwinji said Zimbabwe was following new trends in HIV and TB research closely and has been able to keep abreast of new developments in the treatment of these chronic diseases.

“We are also looking at the new TB treatment regimen that further decreases the amount of time patients spend on treatment,” he said.

Zimbabwe was an early adopter of the current TB treatment regimen which used a combination of pills and injections.

Standard treatment involves four doses of antibiotic drugs each day for as long as six months and when it is an HIV-positive patient infected with multi-drug resistant TB, they face two to three years of treatment, including a daily injection for six months. 

“What we are looking at is just a new strategy to improve uptake of medication using fewer pills and less time to treat TB,” Gwinji said.

Early results of a clinical trial show a triple-drug combination destroys nearly 100 percent of the TB bacteria in infected patients within two weeks.

The new drug is still undergoing trials worldwide with researchers from the global TB Alliance raising hope for a treatment breakthrough.

New Ziana

ZIM ASSURES SAFETY OF IMMUNIZATION DRUGS

GOVERNMENT ASSURES SAFETY OF IMMUNIZATION DRUGS
Harare 20 July 2012 (New Ziana) –Drugs used to immunize children against diseases are safe and cannot be blamed for the deaths and illness that occurred soon after the week-long immunization program carried out last month, a cabinet Minister said on Friday.
The government embarked on a program to immunize children against measles and polio last month targeting more than two million children below the age of five.
Health and Child Welfare, Henry Madzorera told a press conference that vaccines used were safe and pre-qualified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ).
The comments come in the wake of reports that some of the immunized children were reacting to the vaccines.
“WHO ensures that all vaccines used in Zimbabwe are safe, effective and from reputable companies and were pre-qualified,” said Madzorera.
“Locally MCAZ ensures quality, efficacy and safety of all medicines and this includes integrity at all levels up to when the vaccines are administered to the children,” he said.
Madzorera said some mild reactions were expected during immunization
“A reaction in the form of rash, abdominal upset is to be expected on a mild or moderate scale,” he said.
“Some reactions occur because some children are allergic to vaccines or its stabilizers,” he added.
Commenting on the same issue WHO country representative, Custodia Mandhlate said vaccine manufacturing processes met WHO standards and the drugs were not designated for particular markets.
“Vaccine manufacturing processes have been certified that they meet minimum WHO standards for manufacturing vaccines for human consumption,” she said.
“Same vaccine batches are made for both developed and developing countries. There are no designated vaccines for particular markets,” she said.
At least 103 percent of the targeted 1 566 444 children were immunized for measles.
New Ziana

Govt to increase spending on contraceptives

GVT TO SPEND MORE ON CONTRACEPTIVES
Harare July 11, 2012 (New Ziana) –The government plans to double the budget allocated towards purchasing contraceptives as a strategy to improve sexual and reproductive health services.
This follows findings that the country’s population faces challenges to access reproductive health services.
The strategy includes removing user fees for family planning by 2013 and targeting adolescents for family planning services.
Health and Child Welfare principal director Gibson Mhlanga said the government was in the process of reviewing health policies and strategies.
“Our goal is to strengthen access to and utilization of quality family planning services by targeting vulnerable groups and hard to reach communities, to reduce the unmet need for family planning from 13 percent to 6.5 percent and increase contraceptive prevalence rate from 59 percent to 68 percent,” he said.
“To attain this ambitious goal the government will strive to increase the proportion of the health budget that is allocated and disbursed to support family planning services, including the procurement of contraceptive commodities, from the current 1.7 percent to 3 percent,” he said. 
Mhlanga said this would avert an estimated 780 000 unintended pregnancies, 110 500 unsafe abortions and 4 200 maternal deaths by 2020.
Speaking on the same issue, national coordinator of the Zimbabwe Young People’s Network Yemurai Nyoni said young people especially women aged between 15 and 19 faced difficulties in accessing contraceptives and family planning services despite more than 40 percent of them having been sexually active before the age of 18
Youth in rural areas are most at risk as they do not have access to contraceptives.
The current rate of contraceptive use among married Zimbabweans stands at 57 percent, the unmet need for contraceptives has stagnated at 13 percent since 1999.
New Ziana

Govt confirms scrapping maternity user fees

MATERNITY USER FEES SCRAPPED

Harare July 11, 2012 (New Ziana)-The government has confirmed that maternity user fees have been scrapped in public health institutions.

Recent reports indicate that government has raised at least US$59 million for the Health Transition Fund that will subsidize the fees, and also go towards the procurement of medical sundries and consumables.

There had been conflicting reports on the user fees with Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera refuting pronouncements by his deputy Douglas Mombeshora that the fees had been scrapped.

Responding to a question from Nkulumane MP Tamsanqa Mahlangu on what government was doing to scrap the user fees, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe told the House of Assembly that women were no longer paying for maternity services in government institutions.

“The truth of the matter is that maternity user fees have been scrapped so a pregnant woman will not pay a cent,” she said.

DPM Khupe said the move had been delayed by some technical issues on the implementation of the plan which had since been sorted out.

Calls have been growing to scrap maternity fees with the main argument being that giving birth should be regarded as a national duty.

Before the removal, pregnant women were paying US$25 to deliver at public health institutions.

Many women, especially in rural areas, were failing to access antenatal care services at public health facilities because they could not afford the fees.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare indicate that maternal mortality ratio stands at 725 deaths per every 100 000 live births.

It is anticipated that the removal of the fees would boost the country’s chances of attaining Millennium Development Goal number four which aims to reduce child mortality by 75 percent and goal number five which seeks to improve maternal health by 75 percent by 2015.

Zimbabwe is one of the countries in Africa which adopted the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA).

New Ziana

Zim condom quality testing machine obsolete

ZIM CONDOM QUALITY TESTING EQUIPMENT OBSOLETE

Harare July 11, 2012 (New Ziana)-The equipment being used to test the quality of condoms has become obsolete and is reducing volumes being tested when demand is high, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) said on Tuesday.
Addressing members of the Parliamentary Portfolio committee on Health and Child Welfare who had toured the MCAZ laboratories, director general Gugu Mahlangu said the 15 year-old air inflation tester for male condoms being used was reducing the number of condoms being tested daily against surging demand.
According to the Zimbabwe Demographic Health Survey of 2011, the country recorded the highest condom usage in the world over the past five years.
“We are the ones holding back the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council in terms of distribution because of limitation of technology to test the condoms.
“We need to have more modern technology to push volumes since condom use is the mainstay of Zimbabwe’s HIV control programme,” said Mahlangu.
She said the MCAZ was testing three batches of condoms against the six to eight batches that can be tested using the new automated set of machinery estimated to cost $80 000.
Mahlangu said the National Aids Council had promised to consider purchasing a new testing machine next year.
“Condom quality is one of the things as a country we need to ensure,” she said.
Zimbabwe has an estimated 1, 3 million people living with HIV and Aids of which 510 000 are on anti-retroviral treatment.
Condom usage and other intervention strategies are paying dividends as evidenced by the reduction in the prevalence rate from around 21 percent in 2006 to 15 percent this year.
New Ziana

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