In March 2020, a stock-taking exercise led by UNAIDS, UNICEF and UNFPA, together with the Ministry of Health and Wellness of Botswana and the Central Medical Stores, assessed the availability of antiretroviral medicines, condoms and other contraceptives in the country in anticipation of the COVID-19 restrictions.
The exercise revealed that Botswana required more stocks of ARVs to comply with the three-month dispensing policy set by the government, and that, if a solution were not found, the country would run out of antiretroviral medicines.
As the regular suppliers were not ready to meet the delivery schedules and the major international producers located in India and China were facing restrictions of their own due to lockdowns, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reached out to UNAIDS for assistance in rapidly procuring antiretroviral medicines for the country.
UNAIDS leveraged its partnership with the private sector and contacted different manufactures to gauge their capacity to provide the treatment on time. Botswana needed to acquire 2.3 million doses of adult medication for meeting its needs for the next 9 months.
Even though some pharmaceutical companies had stocks available, restrictions of movement due to the coronavirus pandemic made the delivery impossible. In the end, UNAIDS managed to negotiate with CIPLA the direct procurement of 1 million dosages of medication which was available in their factory in Uganda. UNAIDS negotiated with CIPLA to keep its regular price. The consignment was delivered by truck to Botswana. The rest of the needed medication will be procured by UNICEF through the regular suppliers.
By proactively leading the stock-taking exercise and leveraging its convening capacity, UNAIDS managed to work with the government and the private sector to ensure continuity of HIV treatment for people living with HIV in Botswana.