DELAYS in appointing a supplier of a nutritional porridge to help save the lives of HIV-Aids and TB patients in KwaZulu-Natal have left the hungry desperate.
A number of hospitals and clinics in the province have been without the porridge for five months.
The programme was set up by the provincial health department in 2006 to ensure that affected people don't take life-saving drugs on an empty stomach.
More than 100000 patients who have been benefiting from the programme at 11 districts under the eThekwini and Umgungundlovu regions are the hardest hit.
Last week, the province said the national Treasury was handling the tender process for the programme.
Yesterday the Treasury blamed the provincial health department, saying the province was "responsible for placing orders with the service provider" to distribute the porridge.
Treasury spokesperson Lindani Mbunyuza said the province had asked to participate in the management of the programme.
"The management of the programme, including placing orders, receiving deliveries, distribution to hospitals and clinics, payment of suppliers, stock and inventory management, as well as supplier performance management are the responsibility of the provincial health departments," Mbunyuza said.
She said the Treasury could not comment on allegations that patients were not receiving the porridge since it was not privy to that information and was not in charge of the programme.
Provincial health department spokesperson Chris Maxon refused to be drawn into the latest debacle.
He said orders for all provincial institutions were sent to the department's supply chain unit.
"The order was sent to the unit last week. We hope that our institutions will have the porridge soon. We are expecting deliveries any time," Maxon said.
The company awarded the tender to supply the porridge nationally, Ngokusa Trading, said the department had not placed an order.
Sibongile Dube said since they were awarded the contract in February they had only supplied eThekwini.