In response to the eNCA interview referenced in the Minister of Health's speech on Sunday 24th May 2015, TAC has conducted an investigation into the matter. After detailed discussions with TAC leadership in the province, a TAC member present at the interview, and the patient interviewed our information gathered reveals the following:
- On 18th May an interview was conducted with the provincial coordinator of the Treatment Action Campaign KZN Mzamo Zondi.
- Following the interview a request was made by the eNCA journalist to interview a patient affected by stockouts.
- The TAC is concerned with all medicine stockouts that affect users of the public healthcare system, and not just ARV shortages. We have spoken out about this on a wide range of platforms. As such a request was put out at branch level to help source a patient affected by stockouts willing to talk to the media, in this case on camera.
- The patient interviewed was faced by stockouts of treatment for her piles and rash and she told the journalist this.
- She was also aware of widespread stockouts in the province and later in the interview talks generally about people in her community who are affected, not specifically at that clinic.
- When asked about how she was individually affected by stockouts she responded with the treatments she was not accessing due to shortages - these were for her piles and rash.
In our opinion there has been a major misunderstanding between the journalist and the patient. The journalist may have assumed the patient was talking about ARVs. The patient was talking honestly about how she was facing a shortage of piles and rash treatment. This led to a news report that we accept was misleading. There was no attempt on the part of TAC or the patient to deliberately mislead the journalist or wilfully misrepresent the facts. We fully regret the extent of this misunderstanding.
The backdrop to this miscommunication is that there are many reports of stockouts nationally that we can substantiate including some in KZN. The TAC in KZN has good working relationships with both Premier Senzo Mchunu and the MEC of Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo in the province. TAC is together working with the provincial government to deal with the stockouts crisis. TAC has no interest in jeopardising this working relationship through any form of misrepresentation. Since January there have been reports of the following stockouts in KZN: Lamivudine, Abacavir, Kaletra, Lamzid (Lamivudine/Zidovudine), Dumiva (Abacavir/Lamivudine), Folic Acid, Ferrous Sulphate, Paracetamol, Morphine, Cefotaxime, Tremadol and Fentanyl. TAC will continue to work with the provincial government to ensure everyone has access to the medicines they need.