Measures are in place to correct the effects of an interruption in the antiretroviral (ARV) supply to areas of the former Transkei, the Eastern Cape health department said on Monday. Spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said an illegal strike at a medical supplies depot in Mthatha last month had interrupted the supply of the HIV drugs.
The workers were upset that money owed to some staff had not been paid.
Kupelo said they turned away delivery trucks, thereby disrupting the ARV supply to clinics and hospitals in the eastern part of the province.
The department suspended 29 depot staff, and they were undergoing internal disciplinary processes. The department was busy recruiting more staff for the depot.
As an emergency measure, the provincial health department had assigned staff to the depot, with the help of the national health department.
A Medecins Sans Frontires (Doctors Without Borders) team had arrived in the area to help deal with the backlog, Kupelo said.
"The situation is getting under control with the intervention in place."
He said the department would not hesitate to act against officials who disrupted service delivery. He criticised the suspended depot staff for "punishing the innocent" by bringing a complaint against the department.
In a statement on Saturday, the Treatment Action Campaign said about 30 hospitals and 350 clinics were threatened by the ARV supply interruption.