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TAC concerned about Free State health

Resource type: News



The Treatment Action Campaign on Tuesday expressed concern over shortages of antiretrovirals and other medicines in the Free State.

TAC spokesperson Andrew Warlick called on Free State health MEC Sakhiwo Belot to “do his duty as an MEC” and to respond to TAC letters asking what actions would be taken to rectify the situation.

TAC general-secretary Vuyiseka Dubula wrote to Belot in December 2008 asking for clarity on a range of issues relating to the Free State’s “critical and life threatening shortages of antiretroviral drugs”.

Warlick said the Free State health department failed to respond to the first letter and another was send on January 21, with a deadline to respond on January 26.

“We are still awaiting a reply,” he said.

TAC said the lack of response from Belot was particularly troublesome given the urgency of the situation.

Since the TAC was alerted of the stoppages and shortages of ARVs in the Free State in November 2008 their investigations into the matter have revealed that the situation has worsened.

“Despite a reported R9,5-million transfer by National Treasury funds that originated from the US Centre for Disease Control to support the Free State’s ARV programme, we continue to receive reports that no new patients, except for pregnant women, are being initiated onto antiretroviral therapy and that baseline blood work for people living with HIV has been suspended at all public sector health facilities.”

The financial crisis in the Free State was no longer restricted to the province’s ARV programme but a range of other health programmes were now being affected.

“Many essential medicines apart from ARVs are now also in critically short supply,” said Warlick.

Free State health spokesperson Elke de Witt said the status quo in the province was still the same since cost cutting measures were announced in November last year.

She said the provincial health department was expected to review the situation at the end of January.

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AIDS, ARV, HIV, TAC, Treatment Action Campaign