REGIONAL Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) country director Kelvin Ngoma says the newly introduced policy of mandatory HIV testing and treatment cannot be effective with imported anti-retroviral drugs.
In interview, Ngoma commended the government for introducing the policy but advised that the new system would only work effectively if the country started producing its own anti-retrovirals.
“The move by cabinet to come up with mandatory testing brings to us the actualisation of 90-90-90, if its not 100% and for the move taken, we say big up to the government. But for this to be effective, there are certain modalities that we need to start thinking, now can we start investing in production of ARVs and other drugs that work for HIV positive people because we are currently importing our drugs from somewhere and that is so costly,”
He said Zambians should ignore the fact that mandatory HIV testing was good for the nation as it was likely to minimise new infections.
“The move is welcome because we are tested for malaria when we go to the clinic and since HIV is a bigger risk, we have a lot of people dying from it, it is better to have people tested whenever they are unwell to mitigate further spread of this disease,” said Ngoma.
“If things are put in place, then we can have a healthy nation and we can boast and talk boldly about development. We don’t share life and every person should take care of his life rather than comparing their life to someone else. We cannot continue having people dying out of this disease, leaving orphans yet the drugs are there. It’s unfortunate that people realize that they have a virus when it’s too late. We want every Zambian to benefit from these drugs, we want to see the same access be the same in Sinda, to be the same in Kalomo, to be the same in Chibombo and everywhere where the need arises.”