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North West rejects report of shortage of medication

Rustenburg – There is no severe shortage of medication in the North West province, the provincial Department of Health said.

This was after Retshidze reported in its second edition in July that there was a shortage of antiretrovirals, tuberculosis treatment and family planning.

“While major improvements have been made, down from 895 reports across 56 facilities last year, the stock-outs crisis still persists,” the report stated.

Spokesperson for the North West Department of Health, Tebogo Lekgethwane, said the department said reports were misleading as they did not provide an accurate impression of the state of the health department in the North West province.

He said the overall provincial medicine availability had reached 81% as per the national essential list in the third quarter of 2021/2022.

“The availability of antiretrovirals (ARVs) and vaccines for the extended programme on immunisation has been maintained above 92%, while tuberculosis (TB) medicines are above 82%.”

He said the province had developed and put in place a system to track medicine availability in the province.

“This system allows for stock to be transferred between facilities depending on individual needs of each facility,” he said.

“The media reported lamivudine drug as having the highest number of stock-outs (at 44%) in facilities. The department refutes these reports and can confirm that the medicine availability for lamivudine 150mg 56 tablets, improved from 76% at the beginning of the year to 83% in July 2022.

“This improvement in availability followed a departmental intervention where concern was raised with the national Department of Health pertaining to the shortages of lamivudine in January this year and was assisted to acquire two months stock from Aspen and Adcock,” Lekgethwane said.

He said the department had resolved to solicit lamivudine stock for the provincial depot from Gauteng in the interim in line with the interprovincial stock transfers as approved by the national Department of Health until the matter of stock levels of this particular drug were stabilised.

“The NWDoH can confirm that the stock availability of dolutegravir has constantly been above 90% since the beginning of 2022 despite media reports which claimed severe unavailability of the drug and subsequently placing it as the second highest number of stock-outs.”

The department was previously impacted by the national supply constraints on DTG 50mg singles but managed to stabilise supply over June and July this year by working closely with suppliers.

A task team established by the national Department of Health was in discussions with Hetero, Mylan and Sonke to supply stock this month and would ensure all provinces received an equal share.

“The TLD (dolutegravir/lamivudine/tenofovir) drug was reportedly on a stock-out rate of 7% according to publications; however, the accurate availability trend is above 97% for the 28 pack.”

He said health facilities also stocked the 90-day pack, but it was not on the national or provincial formularies as this item was donated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Global Fund.

“The reports have further alleged severe shortages of the abacavir/lamivudine, Efavirenz, abacavir/zidovudine medicines placing the stock-out at between 5 and 7%. As a department we can confidently report that the availability trend for abacavir/lamivudine 300/600, 28s has been constantly above 95% since the beginning of this year.

“The availability of abacavir/lamivudine 300/600, 28s has been above 95%, while abacavir medicine availability trends for the 20mg/ml solution as well as the 300mg tablets are constantly above 95% for 2022, with the 60mg dispersible tablets achieving mid to high eighties. Zidovudine on average trends at roughly 87% medicine availability with the 100mg 100-capsule pack achieving an availability upwards of 90% for the entire 2022.”

Lekgethwane said the overall TB medicine availability at the end of July 2022 was 81.6%.

“Acquiring Rifinah 60/60 28s and 56s was a challenge for the province earlier this year due to suppliers being out of stock; however, the challenge was resolved in May and we currently range between 70 and 80% in terms of stock availability,” he said.

The 28-tablet packs of both the 100mg and the 300mg of isoniazid have recorded good availability trends with an average of 88% and 96%, respectively, while the province never experienced any supply challenges with Rifafour, which currently ranged between 80 and 90% in terms of stock availability.

“The availability of family-planning drugs and injectables in our facilities ranges between 88 and 95% with Depo Provera (medroxyprogesterone) registering a drastic availability improvement of 67% in January to 95% in July this year. Oral contraceptives which include Ovral and Triphasil have recorded an 85 to 87% stock availability in the province. We have further recorded 92% availability of sub-dermal implants at facilities which were reported to be experiencing stock shortages.”

He said the department would experience shortages of specific items from time to time when there was a national problem with that specific medicine.