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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More