Updated 17 November 2017

Limpopo hospitals reportedly running out of HIV test kits

The shortage of HIV test kits in government medical centres in Limpopo, which include hospitals and clinics, is negatively affecting the fight against HIV.

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in Limpopo is concerned about new infections in unborn babies as pregnant women are not being tested due to the shortage of HIV test kits.

Pregnant women not being tested

The local TAC branch has confirmed that several clinics in the Vhembe and Mopani districts are without HIV test kits, resulting in patients being sent back or referred to other institutions without being tested. Hospitals have also been impacted, with Elim Hospital – the oldest public health facility in the province among them. Here too patients are being sent away without being tested, despite their willingness to know their HIV status.

“We are worried about the shortage of HIV test kits in government medical centres, which include hospitals and clinics. It is negatively affecting our fight against HIV as pregnant women are not being tested, which might lead to babies being born HIV positive. And the worst part is that the Department of Health has kept quiet and they are not doing anything to address the situation,” said TAC Provincial Manager, Moses Makhomsani.

He said they have been trying to address the situation with the provincial department of health “for quite some time” without success, as no one from the department is willing to take responsibility.

'I was so disappointed'

“We are also concerned about people who are being raped and sent home without being tested for HIV due to the shortage of kits at the clinics, as this might lead to new unnecessary infections. The department is failing the nation as they cannot encourage people to get tested and know their status, but then fail to supply test kits. This is a crisis we do not need as a country,” he said.

“I was so disappointed when I went to Elim Hospital hoping to get tested for HIV, only to be told to come back another day. I was told that the hospital was out of the testing kits, which left me asking myself how come a hospital as big as this one can run out of the kits. I am still shocked even now,” said Sylvester Mulaudzi.

Earlier this year Health-e reported on poor service and shocking conditions at Elim Hospital, and how this was negatively affecting thousands of residents who rely on the hospital for medical services as it’s one of the more easily accessible hospitals in the district.

Claims refuted

“How can a hospital be out of test kits, whereas they keep on encouraging people to get tested? How do they expect us to get tested when the hospital does not even have test kits?” said Mulaudzi. A spokesperson at the hospital said they did have a few test kits, but they were extremely limited and reserved for pregnant women only.

However, Limpopo Department of Health spokesperson Thabiso Teffo refuted the TAC’s allegations, saying that the institutions have enough stock.

“I can assure you that all these claims are not true. We have enough test kits at all those mentioned clinics and hospitals. It is just that we no longer do confirmatory tests if a person tests negative. We have never received any complaints from any of our institutions regarding stock shortages,” said Teffo. -  Health-e News.

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