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General News of Monday, 29 July 2013

Source: The Herald

12, 000 Kumasi HIV/AIDS patients dying

Unless an immediate measure is put in place for over 12, 000 patients of the deadly Human Immune Virus (HIV) of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in the Ashanti Region, who patronize the Komfo Anokye Hospital (KATH), may lose their lives in the coming months as the hospital play dirty politics with their precious lives which is already on death roll.

The over 12,000 patients have their lives now hanging on divine intervention to re-open a portion of the hospital to see to their urgent treatment and medication especially, antiretroviral drugs.

The patients were locked out from the health facility and left unattended to for many months after the authorities closed down a section of the Hospital meant for HIV/AIDS treatment for re-construction, without making any reasonable alternative arrangement to keep the deadly virus in check.

What is shocking is that although an international Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Global Fund the National Tuberculosis Programme, has paid for the renovation work, the officials of the nation’s second largest Teaching Hospital, are refusing to release the cash, GH¢63,000 (¢630 million), to the contractor to have the AIDS Clinic renovation work completed.

It is believed that some of the over 12,000 patients might have already died, without the knowledge of their personal physicians as a result of this sheer insensitivity on the part of hospital authorities.

The contractor has abandoned the project because the KATH keeps telling him they have no funds to pay for work to continue. A visit to the clinic revealed work has indeed been abandoned after it has been stripped bare by the contractor on the strict orders of the hospital authorities to start work while they get him his money from the Global Fund.

Based on this arrangement with the contractors, the hospital authorities early this year closed down the facility and drove away the patients for the renovation work on the clinic to begin. This was after serving them with a four month dose of drugs.

It was explained to them that structural defects on the building were aiding the spread of Tuberculosis (TB) amongst the patients at the clinic.

However, a promise by authorities that the facility will be ready for use in four months has passed without anyone, especially the patients when they will be back to the AIDS Clinic for treatment and their drugs. This is because, the four months deadline given to the desperate patients have elapsed without an end in sight.

The hospital authorities claim all the funds have not been disbursed by the National TB Control Programme, leaving the patients to suspect that there is some sort of political sabotage, especially when from Komfo Anokye Teaching for some time now, has come the worst strikes, led by medical officers and ordinary housemen leading to the deaths of many people.

Currently, not even the usual medical check-ups are ongoing, let alone the free distribution of anti-retroviral drugs.

The Herald’s sources reveal that patients have now been reduced to jumping from one government health facility to the other in search of the anti-retroviral drugs.

This, however, does not come easy as the patients claim they are most times insulted, humiliated and sacked from these facilities because they see them to be “strangers” to the hospital.

But for the fear of dying earlier than expected, these patients despite harsh conditions such as stigmatization and embarrassment they face, manage to go to these state-owned health facilities begging for the drugs which is mostly not given.

The Herald is informed that pharmacists at KATH who cannot stand the suffering these individuals have been subjected to at times call these patients for the antiretroviral drugs. They are assembled under trees where the drugs are administered without doctor’s prescription.

They should have been properly examined, well diagnosed before a prescription. But this essential medical requirement is now missing as the patients are freely given the drugs to swallow and go home.

It is feared that if contingent measures are not put in place, a chunk of these patients may die in the coming months.

Sources within KATH say steps are now being taken to release the money to the contractor and is likely to resume work next week.

Last November, the health conditions of AIDS patients in Kumasi started deteriorating, following the shortage of the anti-retroviral drugs.

For over five months, the patients had to be denied their lifeline because the drugs were locked up in Tema, Accra.

The drug is supplied on government subvention, it is difficult to buy it at pharmaceutical shops.

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