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Mediclinic News : Survey reveals serious drug shortages

Title

Survey reveals serious drug shortages

Date

2016-06-27

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News Description

BUSINESS DAY LIVE One in four public health facilities experienced a shortage of HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis (TB) medicines in 2015, according to a survey by health activists. It is the third year in a row that the Stop Stock Outs Project (SSP) has reported problems of this magnitude, suggesting the Department of Health is struggling to resolve long-standing supply chain issues. "The survey shows drug stock outs continue to have a detrimental effect on many patients. As South Africa moves towards test and treat, now more than ever we need a robust supply chain," said Medicines Sans Frontières (MSF) medical co-ordinator for SA Amir Shroufi. "Test and treat" is a new World Health Organisation policy that says HIV patients should start treatment as soon as they are diagnosed instead of waiting until their immune systems weaken: it is due to be implemented in SA in September. The SSP is a coalition of health and civil society organisations, and counts MSF, the Treatment Action Campaign, and the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society among its members. The latest report, released on Friday, is based on a telephone survey conducted between October and December 2015. A total of 2367 facilities provided information for the survey. Clinic staff were asked if they had experienced any shortages of HIV and TB drugs in the past three months, if they were currently available, and whether they had stock of three key childhood vaccines and seven other essential medicines. The survey found one in four facilities reported a shortage of key HIV or TB medicines in the three months prior to the survey, often for extensive periods: 70% of the stock outs lasted more than a month. Worse still, respondents said almost one in five (19.4%) of these shortages saw patients sent away empty-handed. On the day of contact, one in five facilities reported a shortage of HIV or TB medicines, and one in 10 reported a shortage of childhood vaccines. There were wide provincial variations: for example, a third of facilities in Mpumalanga and the Free State reported a shortage of the psychiatric drug haloperidol, compared to 13% nationally. "Urgent attention should be given to poorly performing provinces, to better understand and address the root causes of specific medicine stock outs," said the SSP. The Department of Health’s head of regulation and compliance, Anban Pillay, took issue with the survey’s methodology, saying telephone surveys were subject to recall bias and were, therefore, inaccurate. By using a broad definition of stock outs, the report’s conclusions were misleading, as many patients were provided with alternative medicines, or a smaller supply than usual, but were not left without medication altogether, he said. Pillay said a new electronic stock control system, expected to be in all clinics by the end of July, would enable the Department of Health to obtain a more accurate picture of drug shortages. The SSP said the recall bias inherent in asking clinic staff to specify the medicines that were out of stock at any point in the three months prior to the survey was likely to result in an underestimation of the problem. It had conducted a validation survey in 143 facilities, and found the respondent had provided the same answer 94% of the time as the prior participant, it said.
Created at 2016/07/06 10:56 AM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2016/07/06 10:56 AM by Mediclinic