Moutse residents want their ARVs from an NGO

A pharmacist dispatches ARVs to a patient.
A pharmacist dispatches ARVs to a patient.

A Limpopo community has warned that a decision to stop a non-governmental organisation (NGO) from distributing ARVs will result in deaths.

Residents of Moutse near Groblersdal in Sekhukhune picketed yesterday against a decision by the provincial health department not to renew its contract with Ndlovu Care Group to roll out ARVs to 3501 patients.

The department gave the NGO three months to hand over the list of patients who would be expected to start collecting ARVs from local clinics.

However, patients who had been using the service for years called for health MEC Phophi Ramathuba to reverse the decision.

Hospital Dlamini, who has been taking ARVs since 2010, said she had bad experience with public facilities. "I would rather die than get my ARVs at clinics. The service there is very bad," Dlamini said.

She said the move would also result in people defaulting on their treatment because clinics were always turning people back. Another patient, Jonnas Sangweni, 40, said he was also not happy about the department's decision.

"We have been to hospitals and clinics before. They failed to assist us. They can't even handle the clients they have at the moment. How are they going to cope when we are brought in?" Sangweni asked.

Lindiwe Ndlovu, 56, said she has been collecting her medication through the NGO for the past 11 years. "They look after us. If you default on your treatment they track you down and send someone to your home," Ndlovu said.

Community leader Seun Mogotji said they hoped Ramathuba would rethink the decision. "They need to consult with the clients at the facility before making a decision like this, otherwise there will be chaos," Mogotji said.

However, Ramathuba said they decided not to renew the contract with the NGO because it was expensive. She said the contract cost them R27-million a year, while the department spends R3800 per patient.

She said they only spend between R4-million and R7-million at a local clinic for all services. "People want to compare this to Life Esidimeni. It's not the same thing. We are not taking our people to NGOs. We are taking them to clinics that are competent to give out ARVs," Ramathuba said.