18 July 2009

Conference to Address Growing Reports of Drug Stock Outs

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) reported yesterday on disruptions in supplies of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs in six African countries. Citing the catastrophic consequences of drug shortages on new patients and those already in care, the MSF report called on national governments, donors and their partners to take swift action to address the funding gaps and supply distribution problems hampering access to lifesaving drugs. The six countries cited were the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The report will be the subject of an MSF satellite meeting on Sunday, 19 July entitled, The Emergency Is Not Over: Access to Treatment and the Challenges of Long-Term Survival on Antiretrovirals. A plenary presentation on Tuesday by Dr. Stefano Bertozzi of the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico will focus on financing the long-term response to HIV.

IAS 2009 organizers have expressed deep concerns about the impact of funding shortages on access to treatment and will reiterate those concerns in Sunday's opening session, where Treatment Action Campaign's Vuyiseka Dubul will also speak. The interruption of ARVs is potentially life-threatening for those now on treatment, and also poses a serious public health risk from the potential development of resistance. The threat of shortages also complicates the current push to revise normative treatment guidelines on when people living with HIV should begin treatment, which will be another hot topic in Cape Town and will be discussed in a symposium on Monday 20 July. Treatment Action Campaign is also planning a march and rally for Sunday afternoon to call for the resources needed to meet treatment targets in the country.

Webcasts of the opening session and all plenary sessions will be available on www.ias2009.org.

Update: AP covered the MSF report and the reaction of conference organizers here.


  1. Knock-Out The Drug Stock-Outs
    (by Maketekete Alfred Thotolo - Activist,Lesotho)

    The isue of stock-outs of essential medicines is a very serious problem in our Southern African countries and needs SERIOUS ATTENTION or else many tax paying citizens will lose their lives unnecessarily. Our governments are only interested in what seems to be a priority to the minority decision making politicians. Public and donor funds are being squandered by extravagant government spending for top officials on very expensive cars, allowances, overseas trips which attract unbelievable perdiems nd allowances; the list is endless and yet citizens are left to die due lack of medicines with ministers claiming that everything is under control!

    How can all be under control when health facilities in Lesotho have been without oxygen, panado, local anaesthasia, ARVs and a lot more for months now??? Lesotho's health system i appalling at the moment leading to the unnecessary deaths of ordinary citizens.

    How will we reach Universal Access amid such problems including lack of transparency, denial with information and officials scared of publicly reavealing the truth about services which are eminently on their knees.

    In this region we demand ministers who are accountable to the voters and who report the truth of the matter as opposed to intimidation of activists and organisations which RIGHTFULLY DEMAND to be told the truth. PLWHIV demand to know how the health budget is being spent; they demand to be given three months supply of drugs or a better alternative way be discussed with them; they demand a constant supply of ARVs to avoid resistence which may lead to second line which many governments cannot afford; we demand generic drugs in order to ensure that the limited funds available will buy enough ARVs for allthose who need them.

    May our government stop allcorrupt practices such as selling Mecedez Benz cars to ministers and other top officials at M4,000 (ZAR4,000). May our Southern African leaders invest in the lives of people who voted them into power!!!

  2. Of course the "financial crisis" will be held responsible for the stock outs which is humiliating and shameful for those countries who cut down their help. This really will be desasterous for both the people who are under haart now as well as for those in need.

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