Dr. Ritah Nakato says her study focuses on abattoirs in Kampala and Lira. She embarked on this study following claims in the media that farmers were mixing drugs swallowed by people living with HIV with pig feeds with an aim of making them grower bigger and faster so that they can cash in.
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A researcher at the School of Biomedical Sciences at the Makerere
University College of Health Science has embarked on a study to assess whether
there are antiretroviral (ARV) drug residues in pigs slaughtered in selected
abattoirs in the country.
Dr. Ritah Nakato told URN that her study focuses on abattoirs in
Kampala and Lira. She says she embarked on this study following claims in the
media that farmers were mixing drugs swallowed by people living with HIV with
pig feeds with an aim of making them grow bigger and faster so that they can
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Cue out: …. To fatten
The presence of three HIV drugs – Efavirenz, Tenofovir and Nevirapine
are being assessed to determine their concentration in blood samples of more
than 360 animals picked from areas of Lira and Kampala where according to
preliminary research the problem is more prevalent.
As part of the study, the researcher is set to conduct several
focused group discussions with farmers, agricultural officers, and abattoir
owners. Nakato says she is only studying samples that have a verification stamp
for slaughter from a veterinary officer in charge since this is a standard
public health requirement by authorities.
According to Nakato, establishing the presence of ARVs
residues in pigs would give an insight into the extent of drug misuse in the
country and the bigger the challenge that it affects success of HIV treatment.
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Cue out: … drug
She says once the study is complete and its confirmed that
residues are present in the animals it will help improve policy implementation
and form a basis for authorities to conduct continuous surveillance and control
of ARVs in the health systems together with increased sensitization of people
living with the virus who might be selling the drugs to farmers putting their
own lives at risk.
However even as the study results are not yet out, Prof. James
Tumwine of the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics says there is danger
in eating meat or pork that has residues of HIV drugs.