Doctor raises concern on lack of HIV drugs

A prominent doctor in Papua New Guinea has recently raised concerns of antiretroviral (ART or HIV drugs) medicines shortage.

Professor Glen Mola, the head of the discipline of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of PNG, posted on Facebook that they heard during a Port Moresby General Hospital staff meeting that the many thousands of HIV positive people on treatment may not have any medicine to take.

The post, which has gone viral, read: “People on ART must take their medicine every single day: they stop and start again they are very likely to breed resistant HIV. This is not only bad (in fact life-threatening) for the patient, but life-threatening for everybody else in the community who might catch the HIV from them.”

Dr Mola also pointed out the lack of syphilis test kits in the country as well as Oxytocin, the drug that prevents women from losing too much blood when they deliver their babies.

“And we are very short of surgical sutures - the special thread and needle that surgeons use to sew up their patients during and after operations,” he said.

“Every day we don't have some essential item that is critical to save medical practice.”

In response, the Minister for Health, HIV and AIDS, Sir Puka Temu, told this newsroom that most of the claims surrounding the shortage of antiretroviral or ART drugs have been sensationalised.

Minister Temu maintains that the ART drugs are already in the country, awaiting clearance in the next 24 hours.

Carolyn Ure