People living with HIV and Aids in big trouble as South Africa runs out of ARVs

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ARVs and contraceptives have run out across the country in ‘a crisis that has been developing over the past two months’, the SSP claims.

The Stop Stockout Project (SSP), a consortium monitoring and reporting on shortages of essential medicines in South Africa, has warned that the country is running out of antiretroviral drugs – an essential treatment for people living with HIV and Aids.

The SSP grouping, which consists of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Rural Doctors Association of South Africa, Rural Health Advocacy Project, Section 27, Southern African HIV Clinicians Society and the Treatment Action Campaign, has warned that stocks of second- and third-line ARVs and contraceptives have run out across the country in “a crisis that has been developing over the past two months”.

The SSP claims to have been in contact with the department of health on the matter, which it said was “aware of medicine stockouts”.

“However, no clear plan has been provided on how to address these shortages, beyond identifying and reporting them,” said SSP.

Asked for comment yesterday, department spokesperson Foster Mohale said he was not in a position to confirm whether South Africa faced the drugs shortage.

“International API [active ingredient] shortages are also to blame and lives are at stake,” said SSP acting manager and Southern African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHCS) chief executive officer Lauren Jankelowitz.

Following the drugs shortages earlier this year in the North West due to a strike by workers in April, which led to stockouts of essential medicines, the latest stockouts are said to represent a national crisis, according to SSP.

Mpumalanga is said to be the worst hit, followed by the North West, Gauteng, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZuluNatal.

“Responsibility for this monumental crisis lies at the door of the affected provincial and national departments of health.

“The SSP hotline for any party to report stockouts nationally has been inundated with calls and requests for assistance,” said Jankelowitz. “A robust supply chain and uninterrupted access to medication is crucial in ending HIV. Stockouts of ARVs interrupt treatment.”

– Citizen


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