Faulty HIV test kits: Motsoaledi blames junior officials

2012-07-16 16:21

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has blamed junior officials for awarding an HIV testing kit tender to a company that was found to have provided faulty HIV rapid tests.

“Junior officials took the decision on their own without consulting the seniors,” he said.

As a result, “the company that had been found to supply defective HIV testing kits was awarded the tender”.

“If the junior officials had asked my advice before awarding the tender I would have known what to do,” Motsoaledi said.

The R22-million tender at the centre of the controversy involves SD Bioline HIV rapid tests kits. It was awarded to Durban-based company Pantech in March this year.

The kits, which are manufactured in Korea, were found to be faulty by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in November last year. This led to the product being delisted from the WHO’s approved list of HIV diagnostic products.

In February this year, the WHO issued an alert recalling more of these test kits and suggested that affected countries should stop buying or using SD Bioline kits until further test are done.

However, the following month, Treasury awarded the tender to a company that supplies the “delisted” test kits.

The provinces that received these kits are Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

However, early this year Motsoaledi’s spokesperson, Fidel Hadebe said: “Only the Western Cape had received the batch of SD Bioline rapid test kits that were found to be faulty.”

Even then Hadebe said: “The province had used the kits without any challenges.”

Motsoaledi expressed the same sentiments today.

He said: “No person’s life was put at risk.”

The faulty test kits were showing too much red in the test window where the results were supposed to be read.

This meant that accurate results could not be read and the affected person would have to be retested.

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