SA not short of ARVs: minister
South Africa has sufficient stocks of antiretrovirals (ARVs), Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday.
“We have called all ten depots in the country and all reported to have enough stock, of up to 20 000 units,” he said.
“We are not running out of ARVs; the supply might be low, but this does not mean there are no drugs.”
Motsoaledi was responding to media reports that six provinces were running short of ARVs.
He called on South Africans who might know of people who were not receiving ARVs to alert the department.
“As a doctor I know what it means when a patient does not receive drugs,” the minister said.
“It means the whole process is reversed and it might develop into resistance, which will cost more money.”
Motsoaledi said the problem of low supply might have been caused by one of the companies contracted to produce the drug being unable to produce its quota.
He said low supplies were not as widespread as reported.
“It is a case of patients being given a month's supply instead of three month's.”
Aspen Pharmacare, contracted to produce 70 percent of the drugs, said it had supplied over 2.4 million packs, exceeding its contractual requirement by more than 400 000 packs.
“The reason Aspen has over-supplied on its contractual commitment, is that it has been advised by the department of health that the supplier required to supply the 30 percent of the tender is unable to do so,” said spokesman Stavros Nicolaou.
He said his company had supplied 1.4 million packets to the department in May.
About 1.7 million people in South Africa were on the state's ARV treatment programme.
Motsoaledi said there was a problem with the supply chain management but he was confident that interns recruited by the department would help to resolve the problem.
The department had recruited 400 interns in the field of financial management, human resource and information technology.
This formed part of the preparation for the National Health Insurance (NHI).
“The intention is to avail 15 interns per category per province. These interns have been selected to provide additional assistance in the areas of financial management, revenue collection, supply chain management, persal clean up and information management,” Motsoaledi said.
The programme, funded by the European Union, cost R84 million, which included a stipend for interns for their accommodation and other logistics.
The interns were recruited from all provinces and were expected to start with the programme on Monday. - Sapa