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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora