Tag Archive | ARV therapy

Health dept winning on HIV/AIDS therapy and TB

At last getting there on HIV/AIDS…

red_aids_ribbon_hi-resOn the subject of the department of health (DOH) budget vote, minister of health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, indicated to the parliamentary portfolio committee that DOH were getting on top of South Africa’s HIV/AIDS problem and he praised the doctors and nursing staff in government service for making this possible.

He said that South Africa faced the problems of increased life expectancy coupled with extra burden of having to reduce maternal and child mortality; reduce the burden of disease from HIV/AIDS and TB and, critically, improve the effectiveness of the health system.

HIV positive persons on therapy increases

aaron motsolaediHe told parliamentarians that under a programme called NIMART, or Nurse Initiated Management of Antiretroviral Therapy, that health facilities providing antiretrovirals (ARVs) to HIV positive persons had increased from only 490 in February 2010 to 3,540.  In the same vein, the number of nurses trained and certified to initiate ARV treatment in the absence of a doctor were increased from 250 in February 2010 to 23 000.

Under NIMART, the number of people on treatment went from 923 000 in February 2010 to 1,9 million to date – which meant a doubling the number on treatment. “This does not mean that any other epidemics in South Africa are less important, it simply emphasises that the central driver of morbidity and mortality in South Africa is largely HIV and AIDS and TB”, he said.

Groundbreaking single dose pill

Minister Motsoaledi also pointed out that DoH had recently introduced the “ground breaking” single dose combination or FDC pillstherapy. For this over 7,000 health workers had to be trained but the windfall was that whereas it used to cost DoH R314.00 per patient per month to provide ARVs that now, with the single dose treatment, the cost is R89,00 per patient. “This means we can treat many more with the same money that needed to treat one person in 2009”, he said.

“I wish to take this opportunity to thank all the health workers for this sterling performance – especially the nurses without whom this numbers would have been impossible to achieve. The results we achieved from these endeavours are very sweet indeed.”

TB still the big enemy

tbHe went on to tell parliamentarians that some four weeks ago, the Statistician-General had released StatsSA’s yearly figures on the causes of death from disease in South Africa. “They could only release at that stage the 2010 figures, but TB was found to be the number-one killer in the country – not surprising given the synergistic relationship between TB and HIV/AIDS.”

“Into this area of medicine, DOH has recently introduced what is known as GeneXpert technology, the last time any country having any new technology to diagnose TB being over fifty years ago. Before GeneXpert technology, it used to take us a whole week to diagnose TB”.

He said that DoH could now diagnose for TB and get a result in only two hours. This was critical when dealing with patients who have travelled miles or who had no money for transport to return, if they did at all.

Minister Motsoaledi said, “Since its unveiling on 23 March 2013, we have distributed 242 GeneXpert units around the country. This number constitutes 80% of all facilities we would like to cover.”

Worldwide help

aids sickHe said, “ We had spent R117 million shared by the National Department of Health, the Global Fund and the Center for Disease Control in the USA, to achieve this 80% coverage. We have conducted 1,3 million tests using this technology since 2011 and this constitutes more than 50% of the total tests conducted in the whole world.”

He continued, “In five months’ time, we will achieve 100% coverage of all the district hospitals with this system and then we shall move to the big community health centres.”

“ The biggest of these machines, that can diagnose forty-eight patients at a time and I am pleased to say that two have placed, one at Ethekwini Municipality and the second in the Cape Metro at Greenpoint, both areas being the epicentres of TB at the moment.”

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