“The extent of medicine shortages, especially ARVs, is significant and far beyond previous estimations,” TAC chairwoman Anele Yawa said.
“In six out of nine provinces, over 17 percent of responding facilities said they were affected.”
Stop Stock Outs Project (SSP) an independent civil society association that monitors medicine stock surveyed 2139 health facilities in September and October.
The SSP consortium consists of the TAC, the Rural Doctors Association of SA, the SA HIV Clinicians’ Society, Rural Health Advocacy Project, Section27 and Doctors Without Borders.
SSP said the shortage of medicine for people who receive antiretroviral treatment (ART) and the interruption in their treatments was a national crisis.
According to the survey, the stock problems lasted 30 days on average.
Yawa said more than half of the facilities that reported medicine supply problems for three months before the survey still had no medicine or had shortages when they were contacted for the survey.
“For hundreds of thousands of people this is a dangerous waiting game,” said Yawa. According to the survey results, the Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga were worst affected.
SSP called on national and provincial health departments to eliminate stock outs and to come up with an urgent plan.
“The survey clearly illustrates the failure of passive monitoring of medicine stocks and the chaos in replenishment orders,” SSP manager Monique Lines said.
“A proactive approach is required urgently. If not implemented, we are doomed to undermine an ambitious ART programme and risk the lives of tens of thousands.”
The full report on the shortages included interviews with patients and doctors.