Antiretroviral shortage ‘under control’

2015-05-28 06:00

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FOLLOWING reports of antiretroviral (ARV) shortages in some provincial hospitals and clinics, the KZN MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has ensured the public that the situation is under control.

Dhlomo said due to the shortage of medical stock, 75% of adult patients­ have been switched over to the fixed dose combination (FDC) drugs.

The Witness reported earlier last week that dwindling supplies of antiretrovirals had left clinics and hospitals without the means to adequately treat their patients. Clinics that were affected include Ashdown, Caluza, Howick and Esigodini­.

Dhlomo said while there a few challenges regarding the supply of ARVs, particularly for children, these would would have been overcome by next month.

“The province has enough stock of the FDC ARV drugs, therefore all adult patients receive their treatment. A small percentage of adult patients are on single ARV agents for various reasons.

“A contingency plan has been made and with an additional stock of Lamuvidine and Abacavir, we will have enough supplies.”

He encouraged people to switch to FDC as it is easier to take and improves the level of adherence­.

The KZN Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has challenged the department to hold the manufacturers accountable for the delays, and to fine them for not being able to meet their contracts.

Provincial head of TAC, Mzamowenkosi Zondi, said this alone is evidence that there is widespread complacency, ignorance and denial about the epidemic.

“The outbreak of treatment shortages presents a very serious picture of very serious problems in the medicines’ supply system.

“If this problem is not addressed, it will lead to the collapse of the ARV programme which the department will have to pay more for.

“After patients have defaulted they may use the first or second line regiment however, it is difficult to get the third line regiment in SA­.

“We wish to know what the department­ is doing to hold these manufacturers accountable, and what guidelines they are releasing to health facilities and patients to advise them on how to change and swop treatment.”

The DA spokesperson for health, Dr Imran Keeka, said that while the department is paying suppliers on time, the MEC should ensure that a proper plan is put in place to deal with ongoing delays in medication supplies

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