Health-e (Cape Town)

13 December 2012

South Africa: Eastern Cape Medicine Stock-Outs Critical

Lusikisiki — Many clinics in the Eastern Cape are without essential drugs, according to HIV/AIDS adherence counsellors in the region.

A months-long strike by staff at Mthatha Hospital Complex, including the medicines depot that supplies drugs to half of the province’s clinics, has caused a drastic backlog in the deliveries of medicines to district hospital and rural clinics.

“The district is facing a huge challenge this festive season,” said Noloyiso Ntamehlo, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) coordinator for the Eastern Cape. “The drug shortage affects patients’ adherence to medicines, and we are particularly worried about people on ARVs [antiretrovirals]. The drug shortage will increase the mortality and morbidity rates. The Department of Health needs to come up with an urgent plan as to solve this chaotic situation.”

The national and provincial offices of the Department of Health have welcomed the assistance of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the TAC volunteers assisting the depot in getting orders up to date.

During a World AIDS Day celebration held at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in East London at the beginning of the month, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet acknowledged the challenges the department is facing. “We are dealing with the matter and drastic measures will be taken against those involved in corruption. An action plan is currently in the pipeline,” said Kiviet.

Thandeka Vinjwa-Hlongwane is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Lusikisiki in the OR Tambo health district in the Eastern Cape.

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