Yesterday, 29 May 2013, TAC joined members of the Modjadjiskloof community for a sit-in at the Kgapane Clinic to protest the lack of availability of antiretroviral medication. The protest began at 9H00 and lasted until 14H30, with representatives from the Herald Mopani and Thobela AM on site to capture the information.
Extreme shortages of antiretroviral medication have led to an unavailability of the TDF, 3TC, and FDC drugs since last September, over eight months ago, according to reports. Community members have been forced to share medication with one another due to the extreme shortages, often receiving less than half of their necessary pills during each visit. The Kgapane Clinic’s failure to accommodate the individuals by giving them the correct amount of medication has also caused many to default on their treatments.
One community member present at the sit-in stated that she often queues in long lines at the clinic only to be told that her pills are
not available. Due to the shortages, she has been forced to seek treatment elsewhere, travelling instead to another hospital to collect her antiretrovirals. It has been even more difficult on other members of her community, some of whom have not been able to receive medication since the shortages began last September. Those who are able to get pills often distribute them between others in need to allow more people to receive at least partial treatments.
Representatives from the Kgapane Hospital have denied claims of ARV shortages leading to people sharing their medications and defaulting on their treatments. When TAC members visited in the past, they were confronted by a refusal of the clinic to publicly acknowledge the issue. However, during yesterday’s sit-in the Department of Health’s HIV coordinator at Kgapane agreed that there is a problem with shortages, and that she is working to combat the issue. This is important progress for community members who have expressed fear in regards to speaking out against the clinic.