‘Disabled in rural areas have challenges accessing ART’

CHALI MULENGA, Livingstone
THE Zambia Agency for People living with Disabilities (ZAPD) in Livingstone is concerned that its members who are HIV-positive in rural areas are facing challenges to access anti-retroviral therapy (ART) due to long distances from their homes to health facilities.
ZAPD Livingstone district coordinator Janet Chisupa said in an interview yesterday that long distances to hospitals have contributed to the high ART defaulter rate among people living with disabilities.
She also said inadequate supply of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs is a challenge.
“High transport costs are discouraging  people living with disabilities  to move from one point to the other. It costs more as this person has to pay for the assistive device. For instance a person who is visually impaired needs someone to help him or her to move from one point to the other,” Ms Chisupa said.
She cited Kazungula as an example of a vast district where people with disabilities face challenges to access ART due to long distances to hospitals.
Ms Chisupa said people living with disabilities in Kazungula are facing difficulties to get to hospitals due to lack of transport.
“In the rural areas it is very difficult to find transport that would take someone to a health post. Most people living with disabilities are poverty-stricken and the resource envelope is not enough for them to cover such expenses,” Ms Chisupa said.
She said most HIV-positive disabled people default on ART and end up dying in their homes as a result of treatment failure.
“Those that are on ART are not able to access medication because of discrimination in society, we want people living with disabilities to receive medical and social support in their lives,” Ms Chisupa said.

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