On 19 December 2009 TAC wrote to Sakhiwo Belot, MEC for Health for the Free State Province , asking for clarity on a range of issues relating to the Free State’s critical, life threatening shortages of antiretroviral drugs. After having failed to receive a response from MEC Belot’s offices, TAC sent a follow-up letter on 21 January 2009 , the deadline for response for which was yesterday, 26 January 2009. We are still awaiting a reply.
The head of the Free State Health Department, Professor Pax Ramela, released a statement on 14 November 2008 which explained that ART shortages in the Free State were not the result of financial mismanagement, but of a lack of funding instead. This allegation was initially leveled by doctors in the province who were shocked to learn that the ART coffers were empty.
Last week, TAC learnt that the Free State was experiencing critical, life-threatening shortages of ARVs and had therefore called for a stop to the provincial ART roll-out. The Manager of the province’s ART programme, Dr. Mvula Tshabalala, instructed provincial healthcare workers to stop initiating new patients on ART with the exception of pregnant women.
The alleged reasons for the shortages are a lack of funds to support the ART roll-out. The money allocated for the Free State’s ART roll-out was not sufficient to support the range of ARV regimens that healthcare clinics needed to make available to patients. Furthermore, not enough funds were allocated to support the roll-out of dual therapy for the prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT). The result is that the money was quickly exhausted.
Last week it came to light that the Free State was experiencing critical, life-threatening shortages of ARVs and had therefore called for a stop to the ART roll-out. To read TAC's original statement on the issue please click here . The Manager of the province’s ART programme, Dr. Mvula Tshabalala, instructed provincial healthcare workers to stop initiating new patients on ART with the exception of pregnant women.
The reasons for these ART shortages were alleged financial mismanagement within the provincial Health Department. TAC has since received some clarity on these issues from representatives of the Free State Department of Health as well as from a range of stakeholders who are currently monitoring the situation. The findings have important implications for the national roll-out as a whole.
According to the information that we have received:
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Adcock Ingram has issued a recall of certain batches of Adco-Nevirapine and Adco-Zidovudine (what is commonly known as AZT) due to a packaging error. It was discovered by Adcock Ingram that blister packs of Adco-Nevirapine had been packed into nine packs of Adco-Zidovudine. The Nevirapine blister packs were labelled correctly but they had been inserted into AZT boxes.
As a precautionary measure Adcock Ingram is recalling entire batches of the affected anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). The recalled boxes are: Adco-Nevirapine batch number 1J, expiry date January 2009; and Adco-Zidovudine batch number 1Z, expiry date November 2008. All recalled drugs will be replaced by the correct medication.
TAC has a made a submission  to the Department of Health (DoH) and the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) on the new draft DoH Guidelines on the Management of HIV in Health Facilities (Guidelines). The submission presented yesterday (16 May) by Zackie Achmat at a meeting of SANAC's Techinal Task Team on HIV Treatment, Care and Support. Later this month the submission will also be presented at the SANAC Plenary.
The AIDS Law Project (ALP) has written a memorandum explaining the serious problems with the antiretroviral tender that the state has put out.
A set of eight posters covering various aspects antiretroviral treatment. Aimed at everyone.
A detailed guide to antiretroviral treatment aimed at people with advanced treatment literacy skills.