In one of the country's least developed areas, the Eastern Cape, public health facilities have experienced severe shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies in the past year. A report published on November 5 by the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition details what it calls the "crisis in healthcare" in the region. According to the report, mismanagement by the municipal health department has resulted in stacks of the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs used to treat HIV infection lying in storage while patients are turned away from clinics”.
Minister of Health (Aaron Motsoaledi) points out that South Africa distributes more ARV drugs than any other country, with more than 600,000 people per year registering to receive the medication. According to the National Treasury, the government spent R22.2bn on HIV in 2012/13. R5bn came from donors.
Some data show that South Africa's ARV distribution programme is improving. For instance, according to the National Antenatal Survey, the number of people receiving ARV drugs has increased in the past four years from 923,000 to 2.4 million people, while the number of clinics and hospitals offering the medication has climbed from 490 to 3,540 facilities countrywide.
So today, it is timely to remind us all what the national health department’s chief strategy is to combat the scourge of HIV_AIDs in our country: the HIV and AIDS Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign. The HCT campaign will scale up the integrated prevention strategy based on:
- behaviour change
- use of barrier methods
- providing medical male circumcision
- scaling up syndrome management of STI
- early prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT).
A further aim of the HCT Campaign is that people should know their status early. This is being serviced through upscaling HCT services in public and private facilities, homes, workplaces and public spaces.
Too many of us are not paying attention to the impact on all of us if things don't improve. Pretending we will never be affected, if not infected, is too be naive. You may not have the virus, but you are sharing the cost burden to manage the illness in your fellow South African. So, use every opportunity you get to spread the message and the main tenants of the HCT campaign.