Western Cape calms ARV fears

HEALTH authorities have allayed fears regarding the shortage of medicine for people with HIV-Aids.

The Western Cape health department says its anti-retroviral drugs depot has not been out of stock to date and it has been managing the shortage by purchasing limited quantities of the product from companies other than those on the current tender list who are temporarily unable to supply the demand.

This comes after fears that there could be a health crisis in the country as six provinces are in short supply of ARVs.

The drugs in short supply include tenofovir and abacavir.

Health MEC Theuns Botha said the problem originated at national level because of insufficient up-scaling of production by the current tender suppliers to meet the high demand for tenofovir, which was provided by the national Department of Health-mediated USG donation during 2010/2011.

The donation was arranged to support the rapid expansion of ARV services during 2010 and last year.

Botha said yesterday: "In the Western Cape, the problem is currently manageable, with no facilities reporting stock-out situations.

"No patient would not be able to receive their tenofovir or require to be changed to another ARV medicine."

Botha also urged patients to continue to attend their clinic appointment dates as usual.

Khayelitsha district chairwoman for the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Neliswa Nkwali, confirmed that ARVs, especially tenofovir, were running out of stock. She called on the authorities to resolve the problem before it was too late.

"Although it is not a big problem in the Western Cape, we have been told by the department that the province could run out of ARVs next month."

The department has promised to put emergency plans in place to address the problem.

"The problem is that there is a lack of communication between the department, pharmacies and other suppliers," Nkwali said.

"They don't contact TAC and other stakeholders regarding the ARVs," she said.

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