The Northwest Department of Health has noted with concern several media reports of the alleged unavailability of drugs for patients on antiretroviral (ARV), tuberculosis (TB), and family planning following the release of the second edition of the Retshidze report recently.
The Department finds the media reports to be misleading as they do not provide an accurate impression of the state of health in the North West Province, particularly the current state of drug availability in the province.
Therefore, the NWDoH refutes, with due contempt, the distorted information that has made its way into the public space as a result of the Retshidze report, an assessment compiled from observations and interviews without soliciting facts from the custodian department.
of public health services in the province.
The Department, as part of Section 100 (1) (b) interventions, made significant progress in addressing provincial public health drug shortages.
The general availability of provincial medicines reached 81% according to the national essential list in the third quarter of 2021/2022.
The availability of Antiretrovirals (ARV) and vaccines for the Expanded Program on Immunizations has remained above 92%, while drugs for Tuberculosis (TB) are above 82%.
The Province has developed and implemented a system to track the availability of medicines in the province.
This system allows the transfer of stock between facilities based on the individual needs of each facility.
Currently, the availability of stock in the province is as follows: ARVs The media reported that the drug Lamivudine has the highest number of shortages (44%) in the facilities.
The Department refutes these reports and can confirm that drug availability for Lamivudine 150 mg 56 tablets improved from 76% at the beginning of the year to 83% in July 2022.
This improvement in availability followed a departmental intervention that raised the concern before the National Department.
Department of Health regarding a shortage of lamivudine in January this year and received assistance to purchase two months’ supply from Aspen and Adcock.
The department has resolved to request stocks of lamivudine for the provincial warehouse of Gauteng province in the meantime, in accordance with the inter-provincial stock transfers approved by the National Department of Health until stock levels of this particular drug stabilize.
The NWDoH can confirm that Dolutegravir stock availability has been consistently above 90% since early 2022, despite media reports claiming severe unavailability of the drug and subsequently ranking it second higher number of shortages.
The Health department is in talks with Hetero, Mylan and Sonke to supply stock this month and will ensure all provinces get their fair share.
According to publications, the drug TLD had a stock-out rate of 7%, however, the accurate availability trend is greater than 97% for the 28-pack.
Health facilities also stock the 90-day pack, but it is not available.
Reports have also alleged severe shortages of the drugs Abacavir/lamivudine, Efavirenz, Abacavir and Zidovudine, causing stocks to be 5-7% out of stock.
As a Department, we can confidently report that the availability trend for Abacavir/Lamivudine 300/600, 28s has been consistently above 95% since the beginning of this year.
Abacavir/Lamivudine 300/600, 28s availability has been above 95%, while Abacavir Medicine availability trends for 20 mg/mL solution and 300 mg tablets are consistently above 95% for 2022, with the 60 mg dispersible tablets reaching medium to high levels.
1980s Zidovudine on average is trending towards approximately 87% drug availability with the pack of 100 100mg capsules achieving greater than 90% availability for all of 2022.
TB Treatment Overall TB drug availability through end of July 2022 is 81.6%.
Rifampicin/isoniazid received a reported stockout rate of 47% in the media; however, provincial availability trends for 300 mg/150 mg 56s are over 94% for all of 2022 so far, 150 mg/75 mg 56 singles are between 89% and 91%.
for 2022 too.
Procuring Refinah 60/60 28s and 56s was a challenge for the province earlier this year due to suppliers running out of stock, however the challenge was resolved in May and we are currently hovering between 70-80% in terms of availability of stock.
The province has never experienced any supply issues with Rifafour, which currently hovers between 80% and 90% in terms of stock availability.
Availability of family planning and injectable medications at our facilities ranges from 88-95% with Depo Provera (medroxyprogesterone) seeing a dramatic improvement in availability from 67% in January to 95% in July of this year.
Oral contraceptives including Ovral and Triphasil have recorded 85-87% stock availability in the province.
In addition, we have recorded a 92% availability of subdermal implants in facilities that were reported to be experiencing a shortage of stock.
The Department will experience shortages of specific items from time to time when there is a national problem with that specific drug.
However, information about a departmental process for filing general complaints is available from various health facilities.
Through this process, people experiencing drug shortages may intensify their challenges if they believe they are not getting the cooperation of the health centers they visit.
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