Lockdown: Former teacher rides bicycle to deliver ARVs to patients

Sunday April 26 2020
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Mr Patrick Waisana,50, a volunteer at Busolwe Hospital in Butaleja District rides his bike to deliver ARVs and Anti-TB drugs to patients in four districts following Covid-19 lockdown. Photo by Yahudu Kitunzi

Hundreds of people living with HIV/Aids and TB are stranded since public transport means were stopped by President Museveni in the fight against Covid-19. Most of the patients can’t manage to reach the health facilities to get drugs.

Because of this, Mr Patrick Waisana, 50, a former teacher and a resident of Bungoma Village in Butaleja Sub-County, Butaleja District who volunteers at HIV Clinic at Busolwe hospital has resorted to transport the drugs to the patients using a bicycle.

He says he rides over 50Km every day to deliver drugs to the patients not because he expects money, but only to help them.

“Skipping or abandoning treatment affects the reduction of the viral load and protection of the immune system. HIV has the potential to change and develop resistance if the viral load isn’t suppressed fully.  This is why I ride by bicycle to help these people,” Mr Waisana said.

“In 2005, I suffered from TB but because I never missed my medication it helped me to recover.  Even these people living with HIV shouldn’t miss taking their drugs and failure to access medication could lead to poor adherence and drug resistance in the long run,” he added.

Mr Waisana disclosed that there are over 3817 HIV patients that pick ARVs from Busolwe Hospital.

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“Most of them are in remote areas and reaching the facility to get drugs is difficult now that there are no public transport means,” he said.

According to him, he has so far delivered ARVs to 46 patients and to 20 TB patients in the districts of Tororo, Butaleja and Namutumba.

Mr Waisana, who is married with nine children, rides a bike every day but he said it is not easy because of the long distance and most of the times hungry.

“It’s hard to ride a bicycle for a long distance and on empty stomach. I only depend on borehole water when am thirsty and hungry,” he said.

The Butaleja District HIV/Aids Focal Person, Mr Moses Wabala, said before the lockdown, clients were picking drugs themselves. 

“Some HIV clients have been using motorcycles to come and pick drugs but they were affected by the lockdown,” he said. He said the Eastern region HIV/Aids prevalence rate stands at 3.4 per cent.

The In-Charge Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) clinic at Busolwe Hospital, Mr Michael Mwangale, said Mr Waisana is doing a wonderful job in the community.

“He is a peer and is delivering both TB and HIV/Aids drugs to the clients and we are working closely with him because is doing a great work,” he said.

One of the HIV patients only identified as Madina, said she has benefited from Mr Waisana’s service.

“I missed drugs for four days until Mr Waisana started delivering them to us. I thank him because I was stuck,” she said.

The RDC Butaleja, Mr Jimmy Segawa Ebil, said patients have their specific people who take to them drugs.

“Mr Waisana and others are doing a recommendable job. This work is supported by one of our implementing partners in the district. At end of the month they will get something,” he said.

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