Delays, queues, bedevil Aids fight in rural areas

2010-11-22 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Health department has had huge success in providing anti-retrovial drugs (ARVs) in the uMgungundlovu district, with seven new sites already rolling out ARVs and almost 46 000 patients on treatment.

However, a survey report by the Centre for Economic Governance and Aids in Africa (CEGAA) in conjunction with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) indicates that scarce human resources and crowded clinics are clogging healthcare provision in the district.

CEGAA is an NGO dealing with budget monitoring and expenditure tracking on health, TB and HIV and Aids issues.

The survey, which focused on uMgungundlovu and OR Tambo (Eastern Cape) health districts, was conducted in May. The aim was to look at issues pertaining to the availability of, and access to HIV and Aids and TB services in the two districts.

CEGAA spokesperson Nhlanhla Ndlovu said congested clinic space, long queues and insufficient supply of ARVs continues to affect the smooth provision of HIV and Aids and TB services in uMgungundlovu district. “Despite the good stories told by respondents of their experiences of accessing services, the above factors impact on the quality of services provided,” said Ndlovu.

The study showed that 40% of respondents in uMgungundlovu accessed health facilities for HIV and Aids treatment and 47% sought a combination of TB testing and screening and HIV and TB education and treatment. Five percent sought HIV counselling and testing.

About 80% of the respondents received the services, but they identified insufficient supply of drugs and nutritional support, unavailability of medical doctors, long queues, overcrowding and irregular working hours at clinics as a concern.

The waiting period for laboratory results relating to TB, CD4 count and viral loads was found to be too long.

“In some cases the results would not come back at all until the testing procedure is restarted. About 83% of health workers have low morale due to the shortage of support systems in clinics,” Ndlovu said.

District senior technical advisor Ismail Subhan said the long waiting period for test results are of concern and they are putting measures in place to remedy that.

He said the province has approved the employment of more staff.

“Getting supplies from mother hospitals to clinics is a problem that creates the impression that there’s a shortage while there’s none. We will take the report to top management to find measures to remedy the situation,” said Subhan.

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