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ARVs fed to pigs and chickens in Uganda

Uganda’s National Drug Authority (NDA) has admitted it knew HIV medicine was being used to fatten up animals in the country in 2014, but failed to warn the public – this after a recent report by Makerere University found that more than a third of chicken and 50% of pork it tested contained traces of anti-retroviral drugs.

The meat was sourced from markets in the capital, Kampala, and the northern city of Lira, reports BBC News.

The regulator’s senior drugs inspector, Amos Atumanya, told Parliament it was aware the drugs were being given to pigs and chickens, and while the NDA has since tried to downplay his comments, he added that for humans, consuming small quantities of the drugs in food could be dangerous.

Appearing before Uganda’s House Committee on HIV/Aids, Atumanya said the NDA had carried out an investigation in 2014 into the use of ARVs in animal farming.

Yet, while it subsequently published a report, it did not issue a public warning for fear of hurting the country’s food exports “if we blow it out of proportion”.

“So we were trying to find other means to manage that situation,” he added.

One respondent to the study by Makerere University’s College of Health Sciences, said that pigs that were fed ARVs “grow faster and fatter and are sold off quickly”.

However, Atumanya said the practice could cause serious problems for humans who ate the meat, and who might later become infected with HIV.

“You are likely to develop resistance to these ARVs,” he said. “If, in the future, you need them, you’ll find the ARVs are not working.”

Around 1.4m people in Uganda have HIV/Aids, according to the United Nations.

The NDA’s report back in 2014 found that ARVs were mainly used to treat African swine fever – also known as pig Ebola, which has no cure. It also verified claims that ARVs were being used to treat Newcastle disease in chicken.

A spokesman for the NDA defended its decision to not publicise its findings.

“The NDA is mandated to regulate the drugs, not food or animal feeds,” he said. “If there were any public health threat concerning the drugs, NDA would be the first to warn the public.”


BBC News article – Uganda's NDA found HIV drugs in meat but didn't issue warning (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Uganda Ebola-free after beating outbreak


Ebola in Uganda: Four things you need to know


Harsh laws pushing Uganda’s Aids fight backwards – activists


Mapping the burden of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa






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