ARVs: MEC denies shortages exist

2009-06-20 00:00

“THERE are no shortages of anti-retroviral medicines and there can be no shortages in clinics because we don’t keep them there.”

This was the statement made by KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo at a press briefing in the provincial Legislature yesterday.

Dhlomo was responding to The Witness article and other reports earlier this week that there was a crisis at Edendale Hospital’s ARV treatment clinic where patients were referred to other clinics due to escalating numbers of patients and shortage of staff. He reiterated that the ARV treatment programme at Edendale Hospital has never been suspended nor have patients been turned away.

Dhlomo admitted that there is a staff shortage and not enough space at the clinic to accommodate patients wanting ARVs.

Edendale Hospital supplies five percent of all patients receiving ARVs in the province, said Dhlomo.

“All our facilities have adequate stocks of medications and nutritional support packs,” he said.

The problems at Edendale Hospital have more to do with space limitations, inability to recruit pharmacists and retain doctors and the pharmacists ending up doing administrative duties instead of ARV dispensing, said Dhlomo. In the last few months, he said, the department has unsuccessfully been trying to recruit pharmacists for sessional work or on full-time basis.

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