Lockdown: Diabetes patients struggle to access medication

People living with diabetes have bemoaned the high cost of medication with most of them failing to access free medication due to the COVID-19 national lockdown.  

Drugs such as actraphane, losartan, atorvastatin, metformin and insulin injections are costly and beyond the reach of most patients. 

In an interview with CITE, Menson Moyo said her health is now deteriorating as she lost her source of income due to the lockdown and she cannot purchase her medication.  

“I use metformin and glimepiride, and it costs me ZWL$310 a month. I used to afford to buy my medication but due to the travel restrictions I can no longer afford,” said Moyo. 

Sitshengisiwe Xaba said one of the pharmacies where they used to get free insulin closed making their situation direr. 

“I get my medication from the Zimbabwe Diabetes Association (ZDA) and we used to collect it from Standish pharmacy but due to the lockdown, the pharmacy is closed making out situation harder as we now have to buy our medication, my parents cannot afford. 

“We are calling for the pharmacy to be opened so that we can be able to collect our insulin. I cannot afford to buy insulin which costs around ZWL$1000, it is very difficult for someone who survives on insulin,” said Xaba. 

Contacted for a comment, ZDA Bulawayo Chairperson, Violet Moyo confirmed that one of the pharmacies, where they used to get the medication in Bulawayo, closed due to Covid-19. 

“Our pharmacy, Standish where we used to get free insulin is closed due to lock down, we used to get our medication from donors outside the country but the lockdown has affected us and even some of the pharmacies such as Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) closed some of their branches making it difficult for some patients who are on medical aid,” said Moyo. 

She added that besides issues of drugs, people suffering from diabetes are also facing dietary challenges.  

“Government should also subsidize high fibre food and small grains because these are very expensive, even before coronavirus these were expensive, the government should also consider subsidizing these small grains such as millet and sorghum because this what people with diabetes consume,” she said. 

Moyo added that they are worried as some patients are at risk of overdosing on medication due to failure to purchase test strips.  

“People with diabetes conditions are expected to check their sugar levels at least once a week if not every day but these strips are no longer affordable to most patients, some of them just take medication without knowing their sugar levels, as such most people will abuse diabetes medication even when sugar levels are low,” she said. 

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