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Health care in a terrible state

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The situation is so dire that patients have not received their medication for months

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The Health Department must deal with dysfunctional facilities where stock-outs of medication are commonplace, worsening a crisis that has affected many South Africans.

Sibongile Tshabalala, chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign, addressing delegates at the ninth South African Aids Conference in Durban this week, said rampant corruption at state health facilities was behind the stock-outs that were endangering lives.

The country’s health care system is in a terrible state, she said, resulting in medicines piling up in depots while clinic shelves remained empty.

“When the problem is with the supplier, it takes months for the news to filter through to clinics and for the department to provide advice on alternatives, as has just been the case.”

The antiretroviral drug lamivudine is currently in short supply globally, and this has affected ARVs that contain this ingredient, a reason behind the shortage of ARVs in South Africa.

The situation is so dire that patients have not received their medication for months.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said his department had a monitoring system in place, and this included civil society.

He has vowed to resolve the issue of ARV shortages and any other shortages. Most importantly, he has vowed to work with the various stakeholders to resolve the crisis.