'Health dept has put lives at risk'

THE Treatment Action Campaign is outraged that the KwaZulu-Natal health department has stopped providing essential nutritional porridge to more more than 100000 patients.

THE Treatment Action Campaign is outraged that the KwaZulu-Natal health department has stopped providing essential nutritional porridge to more more than 100000 patients.

Many TB and Aids patients, who cannot take their heavy doses of medicines on empty stomachs, are starving after the department failed to supply the porridge to clinics, hospitals and other outlets.

TAC provincial coordinator Lihle Dlamini said the decision showed the department had no "interest in saving lives".

"The decision endangers people's lives. It's painful to see people dying due to the government's failure to provide their needs. Non-delivery of the nutritional porridge to the patients poses a serious threat to their lives," she said.

"They are not even getting their medicines because the department has overspent in other projects. Clinics point fingers at districts, and districts lay the blame on the province and the national department," she said.

"Some people rely on the porridge as their daily meal. When the CD4 count of Aids sufferers reaches 200, they also lose their disability grants. And now the porridge that helps them is no longer available.

"People cannot take medication on empty stomachs," she said.

MEC for health Sibongiseni Dhlomo should prioritise the lives of the poor and avoid more deaths, Dlamini said.

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