'Doc was not aware of new antiretroviral regulations'

THE Mpumalanga department of health has come to the defence of a doctor in Tonga who refused to give antiretrovirals to foreign nationals because they did not have South African IDs.

THE Mpumalanga department of health has come to the defence of a doctor in Tonga who refused to give antiretrovirals to foreign nationals because they did not have South African IDs.

The department has pleaded that the doctor be given a chance since his failure to serve the public was unintentional.

Department spokesperson Mpho Gabashane said the doctor was not aware of the new health guidelines, which require a patient to supply his or her traceable address in order to get treatment.

He said the department had contacted the doctor to tell him about the new guidelines.

"The doctor did not refuse to treat foreign nationals because he had a personal vendetta against them," Gabashane said.

"Our investigations revealed that the doctor was trying to act within the guidelines. He was unfortunately not aware about the updated version."

"The community and other stakeholders must try to understand that the doctor is willing to serve the community."

The Treatment Action Campaign has accused the department of failing to notify health workers of the updated treatment guidelines.

TAC provincial spokesperson Thandi Maluka said: "The department's failure to notify health workers about updated guideline is really causing confusions.

"We are currently obliged to teach health workers about the new guidelines at some health centres because the government is failing to do so."

Nkomazi municipality HIV-Aids manager Emma Mahlalela said yesterday: "The doctor must show us a plan detailing how he is going to hunt down the people that he chased away.

"We have also discovered that the people who have started to receive treatment again this year were not checked if their bodies were ready to take the drugs again," Mahlalela said.

The TAC and other NGOs met on Tuesday to discuss the doctor .

But the meeting was postponed until next Thursday because the provincial department of health failed to attend the meeting.

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