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Press Statement for Immediate Release

Press Statement for Immediate Release

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Published by: Laura Lopez Gonzalez on Nov 28, 2012
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12/04/2012

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PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Immediate action required to solve thesystemic crisis at Mthatha Medical Depotand to save patients’ lives.
 
Issued by: The BEMF, RHAP, TAC, RuDASA, Southern African HIVClinicians Society and MSF. Date: 28 November 2012
 The Budget Expenditure Monitoring Forum (BEMF), the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP), the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), theRural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (RuDASA), Médecins SansFrontières’ (MSF) and the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (TheSociety) are deeply concerned by widespread stock outs at health facilitiesin the Eastern Cape, which have been caused by the collapse of themedicines supply chain from the Mthatha Medical Depot.We call on the National Department of Health, the Eastern CapeDepartment of Health and provincial leadership, including the MEC for Health and the Premier, to take urgent action to restore the supply of medicines to facilities served by the depot and to deal with rampantmismanagement and corruption at the facility. This will require bringing inessential medicines from other parts of the country with immediate effect.The Mthatha Depot has been functioning sub-optimally for many years, butsince the beginning of October 2012, the situation with the supply of medicines has been at crisis point and our organisations have beenreceiving regular reports of critical shortages of a broad range of medicinessuch as antibiotics and ARVs. Based on information available to us weestimate that at least 160 medicines are either in dire shortage or areunavailable at facilities served by this depot.Critically, on this list are ARVs that form part of 1
st
and 2
nd
line HIVtreatment regimens. These drugs include:
·
 
Tenofovir tablets
·
 
Lamivudine tablets
·
 
Efavirenz tablets
 
·
 
 Alluvia tablets
·
 
Lamivudine syrup
·
 
Stavudine 30mg capsules
·
 
Ritonovir syrupThe vast majority of patients receiving their ARVs through the public sector are taking a combination of these medicines. The unavailability of thesemedicines is having and will continue to have severe consequences for patients on ART and will result in many developing resistance to their current treatment and others becoming increasingly ill.This will also have long-term consequences for the public health system inthe province, as it will be required to provide expensive alternatives todrugs patients have developed resistance to. Facilities will also be forcedto treat increasingly ill patients for opportunistic infections that could havebeen avoided had there been no interruption in treatment.Based on our work in the province and information supplied to us by healthcare professionals, DoH officials and people who access treatment ataffected facilities, the current crisis was and is entirely avoidable.Since at least 2010, our organisations have regularly attempted to engagewith the Department of Health on issues concerning the supply of drugsfrom this depot. We have not only drawn attention the intermittent drugstock outs at facilities served by the depot but also highlighted reports of endemic corruption at the facility.Despite the fact that it is well known that the facility has been dysfunctionaland corrupt for several years now, there has never been any indication thatmeaningful and long-term interventions are taking place to ensure thereliable distribution of medicines to facilities in some of the country’s mostrural and deprived communities.Recently, this problem has been exacerbated by the fact that since 10October 2012, the distribution of medicines from the depot to facilities hasbeen severely compromised by strike action and staff participating in go-slows.It is our understanding that the National Department of Health has recentlyestablished a task team to investigate the human resource crisis at this

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