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ARV shortage a ‘national crisis’

Section 27 says a fifth of clinics it surveyed face shortages of the chronic medication.

Section 27 has warned the stock shortage of ARV medication in government facilities constitutes a national crisis. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Non-governmental organisation (NGO) Section 27 has warned the stock shortage of anti-retroviral (ARV) medication in government facilities constitutes a national crisis.

The organisation is asking health authorities to step in urgently following a survey it conducted across the country.

Of the 2,100 clinics it surveyed, 20 percent have "dire shortages".

Various NGOs were involved in interviewing doctors, pharmacists and patients and in collecting other information.

Section 27's Mark Heywood says maintaining stocks is a massive problem generally.

"Although our focus is on anti-retrovirals and TB drugs, it points to a bigger problem in medicine supply and security in medicine supply."

According to Section 27, there are about two million South Africans on ARVs in the country.

Some HIV-positive patients in frail health who were interviewed had to return home empty handed.

For most HIV and Aids patients, it's imperative that their medicine supply is not interrupted as the virus could develop a resistance to the treatment.

All the NGOs that took part in the survey say they're not making the claims to promote World Aids Day which comes on Sunday.

Rather, they are delivering a plea to government to do something to change these statistics.