Patients told to 'come back later'

Boitumelo Tshehle

The residents of a home-based care centre for HIV-positive patients are up in arms after being told by the local hospital that there are no antiretroviral capsules for them.

Patients at Lomanyaneng Care Centre in Mafikeng, North West, were told by the provincial hospital to go home and come back a few days later to collect their monthly treatments.

The centre's community liaison officer, Tuelo Robinson, said they were concerned about the well-being of their patients.

"If these people do not get their treatments regularly, their CD4 counts will drop," she said.

"All we want is for the hospital to give them their medication on time."

Robinson said the centre had 85 patients with HIV and Aids and had been running for seven years.

"We started with only four people and the centre grew over the years. We are passionate in helping people with this dicease, but now the hospital is making our job difficult by not giving them the medication they need," Robinson said.

The centre admits patients for counselling and "if something like this happens they become demoralised and stop taking their treatment".

"The government has told us that antiretrovirals cannot be skipped, so we are very concerned at the attitude of the hospital towards our patients," she said.

Spokesman for the hospital David Makhoba said this was news to him and referred Sowetan to the acting chief executive of the hospital.

The acting chief executive was not on duty when Sowetan tried to call her yesterday.

Lesiba Molala, spokesman for the Department of Health, said the problem was caused because the suppliers had only supplied half of what they were supposed to deliver. He confirmed that the department had received numerous complaints about a shortage of antiretrovirals.

This comes after health MEC Nomonde Rasmeni launched April as "a health month".

She said at the time that her department would visit Bojanala district in Tlokweng near Zeerust, the area hardest hit by HIV-Aids in the province.