The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has been angered by the national department of health’s handling of the antiretroviral drugs crisis, with the organisation’s sector leader for people living with HIV, Andrew Mosane, saying government lacked “a clear plan on how to manage the situation”.
According to the TAC – a non-governmental organisation which has been fighting for the rights of people living with the disease – 7.5 million people lived with HIV in South Africa, of which 4.1 million were receiving treatment.
“What the department is saying about stabilising the situation in mid-November does not make sense.
“This problem facing us is too huge for them to sit back and do nothing. The minister is silent and none of the officials want to speak about the stockout outbreak. Perhaps the officials are trying to respond politically – taking their lead from the health minister.
“We are worried when patients are sent away from public clinics because there are no drugs – a challenge for the entire country,” said Mosane.
Mosane expressed concern that when patients stayed for too long without getting treatment “it may lead to a situation when the drugs will no longer work in their systems”.
Mpumalanga is said to be the worst hit by the stockout, followed by the North West, Gauteng, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal, according to the Stop Stockout Project (SSP).
The SSP – a consortium monitoring and reporting on shortages of essential medicines in South Africa – was the first to ring alarm bells on the country running out of antiretroviral drugs, an essential treatment for people living with the HIV/ Aids disease.