| The Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences which houses the ART centre. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Akhilesh Kumar (name changed) visited the anti-retroviral therapy centre at Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences at Agamkuan twice last week with a hope to get medicine for his eight-year-old HIV-positive son Ayush (name changed) but he returned disappointed.
The Patliputra resident did not get Efavirenz tablets of 200mg at the centre during his both visits. Akhilesh, himself an AIDS patient, was not happy because he knew it very well that the gap in taking medicines could have adverse effects on Ayush’s health. “I visited the centre twice in the last week but in vain. It’s not available at the ART centre at Patna Medical College and Hospital. The Efavirenz tablets for one month costs around Rs 1,500. I am not a rich person and so I am dependent on the ART centre because there I get the medicines for free,” said Akhilesh, also associated with the Bihar Network for People Living with AIDS. He, however, got the second drug prescribed for his son.
A staff nurse at the ART centre, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences, who did not wish to be named confirmed that the Efavirenz 200 mg was not available there since last one week. “Dawai nahi hai. Is wajah se bahut logon ko hamen lautana parna hai. Par hum kya karen. Bihar State AIDS Control Society (BSACS) ko hamne mail kiya hai is bare mein (Medicine is not available because of which we are sending many people back. But what can we do? We have mailed to the BSACS about this),” she said.
“I took three persons to a private medical shop to buy Efavirenz tablets after they did not get Efavirenz at the ART centre at PMCH,” said Gyan Ranjan, president, Bihar Network for People Living with AIDS.
Ranjan said people with HIV-positive often have to face this kind of problems when they visit the ART centre. The Telegraph also found his claims true because it had found that the CD4 test unavailable at the PMCH ART centre for many months last year. A report, “HIV patients survive on risky drugs”, was published highlighting this problem on June 4, 2013.
Officials of the BSACS did not look seem to be aware of the situation. Sanjeev Kumar Sinha, project director, BSACS, said: “I don’t know the particular drug you are talking about is available or not at the ART centre.”
Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, president, state chapter of Indian Medical Association, said: “It is deplorable that such kind of situation (referring to non-availability of drugs for HIV-positive and AIDS patients) is arising time and again. I don’t know where the problem lies. Sooner the drug is restored, better it is.”
High court order
A Patna High Court division bench of Justices Naveen Sinha and P.K. Jha on Tuesday directed PMCH superintendent to file an affidavit giving figures about number of AIDS patients treated or undergoing treatment there at present.