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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid