The war against Aids could be lost unless the government cracks the whip on the diversion of anti-retroviral drugs to make cheap liquor, an Aids agency has warned.
The National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Programme demanded that the government develops a database of all genuine ARV users to ensure no one enrols in more than one health centre to “increase their drugs stocks for resale”.
Dr Ibrahim Mohammed, the National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Programme head, said: “If patients don’t take full dosage, they will not get well, and to the population, it may lead to HIV resistance to the drugs.”
One woman in the documentary admitted to having registered her status in two health centres from where she collects the drugs. Yet another told of skipping her drugs to sell the tablets.
The women argued that they “discovered the secret” to make money because they had no food, but often felt “tipsy” after taking the medicine.
They revealed that they grind the tablets, mix them with formalin and molasses to make alcoholic spirits, which they label using fake stickers of common brands.
“I am actually shocked that the government was unaware of this. What is required is a database of everyone who is on ARVs in Kenya so that their names pop up everywhere a patient visits,” said Ms Evelyn Kibuchi, a senior TB project manager with the Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium.
Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli, while addressing a workshop on HIV/Aids organised, said: “The government should investigate fully this incident.”
Consumer Federation of Kenya secretary-general Stephen Mutoro warned that consuming liquor produced from ARVs was dangerous.
Yesterday, Kenya Bureaus of Standards managing director Eva Oduor said: “We have a system to take care of products, but it doesn’t mean unscrupulous people will not try something criminal.”
She went on: “Some of these cases may require local police to finish them, but if you know anyone selling ARV liquor, please let us know and we will be there today” she said.