South Africa: Drug shortages - testimonies from patients and medical staff

"When I arrived at my clinic, I was told that my treatment was not in stock and sent home with no medicine."

“I’m a 45 year old single lady. I live in an informal settlement close to the Lillian Ngoyi clinic called Aaron Motsoaledi. The majority of the people who live there are from rural areas in provinces outside of Gauteng. I was diagnosed with HIV 16 years ago and started ARV treatment in September 2014. In February 2015, after taking FDC for five months I experienced what it is like to not be able to take treatment because of stock outs. When I arrived at my clinic, I was told that my treatment was not in stock and sent home with no medicine. I am not formally employed and I rely on informal employment which comes about irregularly, regular visits to the clinic, to check if the medication was available negatively impacts my chance at employment. Employers started seeing me as unreliable and am paid less due to being late for work after checking to see if my FDC was available yet. The stock out lasted for three weeks until I was able to get my treatment. I was very happy when I finally received my treatment.” 

- Maria from Michael Maponya Clinic, Soweto, Gauteng

“I suffer from an inflammation in my stomach and in my chest. I have been suffering with this condition for 10 years. In July 2014, I was sent to Baragwaneth Hospital for a full check-up. After the check-up I was put on treatment called Ranitidine, this medicine helped me a lot. I was down referred to Lillian Nagoya clinic and that is where I started getting my treatment. But I have been having problems getting my medicine. In January and February 2015 I did not get my treatment and the nurse told me I must buy my own medicine from the pharmacy. In March the nurse gave me treatment for 10 days. Now, in April again I was told I must buy my own medicine. I borrowed money from my friend so that I could buy the treatment. ”

- Patient (32 years) from Lillian Nagoya Clinic, Soweto, Gauteng

“I find stock outs to be very frustrating.”

“As a Professional Nurse who treats chronic HIV patients, I find stock outs to be very frustrating. Due to HIV being an infectious disease, patients are more prone to been infected with other infectious making their immune systems vulnerable. For this reason it is important that patients are stable on their medication. Stock outs disrupt this process.

In January 2015, FDC was out of stock. This is frustrating because when I treat an HIV positive patient I cannot provide them with all the medication they need; this also angers patients very much. Which means the patient is not stabilized on their treatment.”

- Professional Nurse, Gauteng