De Lima asks DOH to look into reported HIV drugs shortage

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has asked the Department of Health (DOH) to ensure that there is an ample supply of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs for people with Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS).

In her letter she sent to DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III last Jan. 17, De Lima shared that some patients informed her about the lack of ARV drugs in the past weeks despite claims by the agency of sufficient available treatment for HIV-positive Filipinos.

“We are writing to your good office to share the reports we received from some of our constituencies regarding the consistent availability of Anti-Retroviral (ARV) treatment drugs in certain public hospitals like Research Institute for Tropical Medicine under DOH,” she wrote.

“We all know that the importance of ARV treatment medicines given to HIV-positive patients as it aims to delay the progression of the infection and the onset of full-blown AIDS,” she added.

In her letter, the lady Senator from Bicol also asked Secretary Duque to clarify if the required funding for medicines to bridge the resource gap in time to effectively halt the worsening condition of the disease is met.

Based on DOH’s submission to the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office, the health department requested funding to purchase around 600,000 ARV drugs.

“In the Senate, I will also do efforts to ensure adequate funding in the FY 2019 Budget to support implementation of RA 11166,” she said. Last year, the Philippine National AIDS Council reported that as many as 32 people were diagnosed with HIV-AIDS every day, which is higher compared with the two new cases reported daily in 2008, 13 in 2013, and 22 in 2015.

De Lima said the steady supply of ARV drugs is even more imperative following the recent passage of the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Act which ensures, among others, that free and accessible ARV treatment is provided to indigent patients.

Amid the rising number of HIV/AIDS incidence among Filipinos, De Lima vowed to support and help DOH with its commitment to uphold the welfare of the people living with HIV and provide them with the care and treatment they need.

“I wish to also note that I join you and the Department of Health, as member of the Committee on Heath and Demography, in being alarmed with the continued surge of HIV-Positive cases,” she said. In 2017, De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 475 urging the appropriate Senate committee to look into the rising number of HIV and AIDS incidence among Filipinos, notably among those belonging to the age group 15-34.

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