and more on the ART/ARV shortage in the Philippines

I first wrote about all of this in the previous post: Calling Dr. Ona and the DOH regarding ARV delays.

Since the letter of Pozzie Pinoy erupted and had been passed around on the Internet, apparently, the DOH has responded and had this to say (taken from the Twitter of Ryan Edward Chua):

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What gets to me about this is where was this statement long ago? Why did we have to wait for someone in the HIV community to step out and say something before we got this information? Everybody has been looking for answers and we only got this now, after someone made a stink about it?

And then, based on someone else’s reply to Ryan Edward Chua’s tweet, I went and checked and found this article:

DOH denies shortage of ARV drugs to treat HIV (Philippine Daily Inquirer, May 17, 2014)

Persons with HIV exposes truth on ARV shortage (Newsdesk Asia, May 30, 2014)

So, in May of 2014, they said there was no shortage and that there was a logistics problem, that was denied outright by people living with HIV and now, after all of this ruckus was made online, they are explaining to us what exactly has happened and they are saying there is a problem with the release of the drugs after all?

What is going on back there and why is there a problem in the first place?

And I continue looking for more information and found more information in these articles:

RITM: PLHIVs may not receive ARVs next week (Outrage, September 3, 2014)

I believe that everything is there, out in the open. For years now, several groups and organisations have been trying to amend the HIV law to adapt and upgrade itself to all the new information that has come up in the several years since it has been written into law, but that hasn’t happened yet. In fact, our Congressmen and Senators would prefer to put up an “anti-selfie law,” an “anti-planking law,” and an “Anti-Dildo Bill.”

Here’s an example of 8 stupid bills or laws that the Philippine Congress has tried to pass:

8 Patently Idiotic Laws Proposed by Philippine Politicians (The 8 List, September 3, 2014)

And then, of course, you read something like this:

PH wages war on crooked customs agents (Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 3, 2014)

And you wonder, if this thing has been going on for so long, what chance to do we have, really, to make any significant changes at this point?

I mean, with all the corruption (see Pork barrel scam and DAP scandal and the MRT-3 mismanagement) going on in the government, how can we expect them to even prioritise the HIV problem when they won’t even recognise it as an immediate problem or an epidemic? In every State of the Nation Address, the president never even mentioned the HIV situation in the country. I don’t even think he knows what it means.

I’m frustrated and angry and I don’t know how to proceed at this point.

It’s just maddening.

**Additional Information**

And I just read this article:

Race for Life, Bureau of Customs rushes work amid warning HIV treatment to stop if meds no released by September 5 (Interaksyon, September 3, 2014)

Apparently, according to the official press statement of the Bureau of Customs, it was the DOH’s fault that the paperwork wasn’t submitted on time, which caused the delay. Again, each department passing on the blame. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, that game can be played effectively by every department and organisation and since neither Customs nor the DOH has given us any reason to believe their competence with any of these matters, we will immediately think the worst.

We don’t believe either department because the Bureau of Customs is plagued with a reputation of corruption and is constantly attacked for their underhanded dealings. The Department of Health has, for the past five years, not taken the HIV situation seriously, except during the time of Dr. Esperanza Cabral.

It’s just a tough road and it’s been an uphill climb for the Positive community. It would be awesome to get a break, for a change.

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