637 children living with HIV in India aged between 3 to 19 have signed and written a letter to the Prime Minister in protest of the lack of the children friendly drug Lopinavir syrup in the Indian markets. The children wrote the letter to top government officials after struggling to access the life-saving drugs in the hope that they will ensure that proper drugs are made available to them. The children were also appealing to the government officials to export the drug in order to help other children like them in other countries across the world.
Government Arrears Stop Production of Children Friendly HIV Drug
It is reported that Lopinavir syrup disappeared from the Indian markets after the only manufacturer of the drug, CIPLA stopped its production. The manufacturing company gave unpaid bills by the Ministry of Health for several years as the reason behind the halt in production of the drug.
Additionally, a series of emails showed communication between the company officials, the HIV community as well as the government officials in which CIPLA gave indications that they would not re-embark on the production of the drug until the arrears are paid in full by the ministry.
A representative from the ministry came out and said that the State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) had been given the direction to buy drugs from the local markets. This further made accessibility to the drug difficult as it was not available in the local market at the moment.
As well, experts have supported the courageous deed by children living with HIV in India citing that the government was turning into an embarrassment by abandoning its duty to make the life-saving drugs available to the HIV community in the country. The company was also given its fair share of blame by refusing to manufacture the drugs and make them available to people living with HIV both locally and internationally.
For children to take such a bold step in voicing their concerns to the government over lack of drugs shows just how the situation is dire. People living with HIV have to take medication as prescribed for them to have the opportunity to lead a normal and healthy life.
Lack of Drug Limiting Children’s Ability to Live a Full Life
What then happens when these people, in this case, children, cannot access their only source of hope? For them, it means that they may not be able to live a full life. They may not be able to play with other children because without the drugs they are sickly and weak.
The situation is worse across the globe because some people do not even know that such drugs exist. In other countries, people may know about the drug but it may be too costly for them to access it. It is then a call for the World Health Organization in collaboration with all governments and other agencies to find ways in which people living with HIV regardless of where they come from can easily access medication.
In addition, companies that are helping in the fight against HIV like CIPLA should be given all the support they require and work with other agencies to make the fight more effective. In Singapore, Shim Clinic offers the HIV post exposure prophylaxis (HIV PEP) treatment that reduces the risk of HIV infection after exposure, but it is best started as early as possible so do not wait to contact Shim Clinic.