Clarity sought from PNG govt over HIV drugs shortage

Papua New Guinea is running critically short on anti-retroviral drugs, according to an advocacy group for people living with HIV.

Oil Search-sponsored HIV AIDS awareness message in Papua New Guinea‘s Highlands. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The Key Population Partnership Network Consortium is seeking answers from government how it plans to proceed, with only around three months supply of ART (anti-retroviral therapy) left to cover the country.

It has organised a forum today in Port Moresby, where the Health Department, and the National AIDS Council, have an opportunity to clarify plans to address the ART tablet shortage.

A representative of the Consortium, Lesley Bola, said the shortage was exacerbated by a funding void left due to spending on PNG hosting the APEC Leader summit in November.

“And the government are literally left with limited funding. That‘s the challenge that every department is facing here.

“We want to try and get some information what the government have planned after the three months, like what will they do?”

According to Mr Bola, there is a need for concrete data about a situation exacerbated by recent big earthquakes in the Highlands.

“So it‘s mainly getting data on how much do we have available, which provinces have them… Because there‘s been logistic problems as well.

“The basic health facilities have gone down, destroyed, so we want to know how many people are accessing them, and making sure that supplies go to them.”

Last year the UNAIDS office estimated that almost 47,000 people in PNG were infected with HIV.