Health dept commits to resolve critical ARV shortages before year end

The Health Department claims to resolve the national ARV shortage before year end.
The Health Department claims to resolve the national ARV shortage before year end.

The Stop Stockouts Project (SSP), the Department of Health (DoH) and other stakeholders met on Tuesday 16 October 2018 to address the critical shortage of second- and third-line antiretroviral (ARVs) and contraceptives.

SSP, DoH Deputy Director-General Dr Anban Pillay, Provincial Departments of Health and medicine suppliers urgently convened to find ways of resolving the ongoing shortages in public health facilities across the country.

Key issues addressed were the extent of the shortages, measures that have been put in place to secure additional supply, and strategies to ensure that sufficient stock is available at facilities by the end of October 2018.

Outlook is positive

Lauren Jankelowitz, acting manager of SSP and CEO of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHCS), said that the hastily convened four-hour meeting at the DoH head office in Pretoria on Tuesday was positive, with all groups agreeing to work together to alleviate the impact of stockouts and get supplies back to required levels as soon as possible.

National and some Provincial Departments of Health have been grappling with a worsening situation – including total stockouts in some areas – regarding second- and third-line ARVs and some contraceptives.

It is feared that, if unresolved, the situation might impact directly on the treatment regimens of patients, with potentially fatal consequences.

"All the provincial heads from Department of Health attended the meeting and we can start to build sound relationships with them to shorten lines of communication for timeous decisions when we identify a problem area," says Jankelowitz.

The situation has seen SSP and the National and Provincial Departments of Health locked in a war of words over the perceived way the situation was being resolved, with the DoH calling for Tuesday's urgent meeting.

The DoH has committed to resolving the problems by the end of the year, and to work closely with the SSP from this point on to ensure that any shortages, stockouts and backlogs are timeously addressed.

Image credit: iStock

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