Foreigners feasting on Malawi’s ARVs

While Malawi’s President Bingu wa Mutharika brags about “eradicating” HIV/Aids pandemic  in Malawi”, foreigners especially Tanzanians have taken advantage of the country’s  lack of national Identification cards and lax laws to access  anti-retroviral treatment (ARV) drugs at government health establishments, Nyasa Times can reveal.

The revelations are contained in a report that highlights issues and findings from a round table discussion conducted by Journalists Association Against AIDS on the numerous challenges faced by people living with HIV and also affected by stigma and discrimination.

“It was noted that Malawi was providing free access to ARV treatment to foreign nationals especially from Tanzania at the expense of the locals, who could be losing out with more resources going to foreigners,” said  the report.

The round table discussion comes at a time when there is the introduction of the new Anti-retro viral therapy regime by the World Health Organization. This is further combined with fears that access to treatment will be difficult as the drugs become very expensive for Government.

“While Malawians living abroad are dying as they cannot easily access ARVs, for instance in South Africa due to tight regulations,”  the report noted.

Health workers also admitted that it was difficult to classify people when they seek treatment at hospitals.

“Malawians have a warm heart and this has been backed by a new policy that forbids us from turning away patients,” said a doctor, who did not want to be named.

Malawi faces many challenges in the HIV/Aids fight, particularly related to how the country will finance the new drugs for life and what type of counselling and social support will be provided to the women who are being placed on ART.

Lillian Dindi Kumwenda, a renowned HIV/Aids Activist, asked government to increase the allocation for the procurement of ARVs “so that our people should not suffer when foreigners have drunk all the ARVs”

“We don’t want to have a situation where the foreigners will live longer because of our drugs while our people die prematurely,” Kumwenda said.

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