News / Africa

South African HIV and TB Patients Experience Interruptions of Life-Saving Drugs

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
Thousands of HIV and TB infected people in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province are at risk of death and other diseases due to ongoing interruptions of their life-saving drugs. That, according to a report by the international medical aid group, Doctors without Borders (or MSF.)      

The report was highlighted at the South Africa Aids Conference that opened June 19 in Durban. It was released five months after a coalition of advocacy groups raised an alarm about the crisis at the Mthatha Medical Depot, the main supplier of anti-retroviral and TB drugs for the province. The groups include Doctors without Borders, the Rural Health Advocacy Project, the Treatment Action Campaign, and SECTION27.

“We phoned one-hundred facilities in the eastern Cape and found that out of these, forty have had stock-outs of TB drugs and anti-retroviral or HIV drugs within the last three months,” said Gilles Van Cutsem, medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in South Africa.

Speaking from the conference site, Van Cutsem confirmed that stock-outs were lasting an average of 45 days, and that on the day they phoned the facilities, 25-percent still had stock-outs.

The MSF official explained that the stock-outs had tangible consequences.

“A large number of patients have had to interrupt their anti-retroviral, and or TB treatment -- which increases your chances to get resistance to treatment, and ultimately to failed treatment, and this would lead to increased excess deaths and illnesses,” he said.

Van Cutsem blamed the recurrence of stock-outs on, among other things, the failure of manufacturers to produce drugs as quickly as they promised. As a result, he lamented, Mthatha Medical Depot that services three-hundred clinics in the area is not adequately supplied.

Van Cutsem added staff shortage and the drug procurement process also contribute to the ongoing stock-outs at the Mthatha Depot.

“Because there has been this ongoing crisis in supply, the clinics have also developed erratic ordering behavior because they never receive the drugs they order. They start ordering more, so they can make up for lack of stock. So when that happens at a very large scale, then that whole supply chain is broken,” explained Van Cutsem.

The MSF official said at the start of the conference, the provincial manager of pharmaceutical services requested his group’s help in recruiting temporary staff for the Mthatha Depot. He said MSF is collaborating with provincial and national health authorities to address this and other issues related to the stock-outs.

Van Custem said the recurrent stock-outs will have long-term effects on those living with HIV and TB.

“Stopping anti-retroviral drugs doesn’t have an immediate effect. You’re not going to feel sick the same day, but it increases your chances of becoming resistant to the drugs. And so the real effect of these multiple interruptions are only going to be seen much later when patients start failing treatment they need,” he explained.  
       
According to Van Custem, that puts affected patients in a highly vulnerable position. He said those in need are left on their own to find drugs at another far away clinic, or be forced to stop treatment all together.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid