by Dr Isak Fritz MPL – Northern Cape Spokesperson of Health
Date: 30 November 2017
Type: Press Statement
The DA will request a report from the Northern Cape Health Department on the more than 40 patients, co-infected with HIV and TB, who died before receiving suitable treatment.
According to the department’s latest Annual Report of 2016/2017, a total of 43 patients, who were infected with both diseases, died before they were started on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
The DA understands that, in some instances, valid medical reasons may have resulted in delays in starting these patients on ART. However, since the introduction of Universal Treatment and Testing (UTT) in 2016, it is generally accepted that people with HIV should start ART as soon as possible, with co-infection with some illnesses further increasing the urgency to start ART.
The DA’s main concern is that the department conceded that its failure to meet its target for the “TB/HIV co-infected client on ART rate” is, to a large extent, due to mismanagement and poor TB/HIV coordination at facility level. In this regard, patient registers are not updated and three out of the province’s five districts do not even have district TB coordinators, in turn affecting coordination of data analysis and validation.
It is unacceptable that, while TB is the leading cause of death in the province, followed closely by HIV, these diseases are managed with such indifference.
The DA will write to Health MEC, Lebogang Motlhaping, to establish whether the 43 deaths could have been prevented if there was better case management by health personnel. We want the details relating to each of the deaths, including why ART was delayed and whether unavailability of certain medicines may have contributed to the outcomes.
While there is no doubt that this department is failing in its mandate to integrate comprehensive health services, we sincerely hope that we are not sitting with another Esidimeni on our hands.
If the DA fails to receive a response from the department, or if we so much as suspect that they are withholding information from us, we will pursue this matter on a higher level.
Every life matters.
Dr Isak Fritz MPL
Northern Cape Spokesperson of Health
083 395 2737
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387
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