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Sthembile Hlatshwayo, Times of Swaziland: Patients accuse hospital of dispensing expired AIDS meds

Patients accuse hospital of dispensing expired AIDS meds

MBABANE – HIV patients receiving antiretroviral (ART) drugs from the Hlatikhulu Government Hospital have accused the hospital of supplying expired drugs.

This has been going on for over a week now.

This shocking revelation was made by the Chairperson of the Swaziland National Networking of People Living with HIV/AIDS (SWANNEPHA) in the Shiselweni region, Patrick Mngometulu, who is also director of Imphilo Isachubeka Shiselweni Organisation.

Mngometulu, who had visited the hospital yesterday to collect his drugs, said he was shocked to discover that the drugs expire in September, 2011 – next month – yet he is expected to take them for the next three months.

He said immediately after seeing the expiry date, he inquired from the dispensers who told him that they have been supplying the drugs since last week.

According to Mngometulu, the dispenser seemed disturbed that he had noticed the problem.

He said he was told that there have been no new orders made by the hospital in a very long time.

Information gathered is that the person in charge of the orders was sitting on the job. Mngometulu said they fear for their lives, as ART drugs have their own side-effects and, worsening the situation, was that they will now be taking expired drugs.

The drugs have an expiry date of September, 2011, which is a few days away from now, yet those who get them from the hospital are expected to take them until November 2011; two months past their expiry date.

“This is seriously worrying to us, as the consequences might be deadly,” he said.

According to Mngometulu, approximately 900 people receive ART drugs from the Hlatikhulu Government Hospital.

He further alleged that the quality of drugs is no longer the same and the dosage has increased. “We were taking two drugs a day, in the morning and evening, but now it has increased to four drugs; two in the morning and evening. We do not know what the meaning of this is and suspect that we are getting a cheaper quality than we used to receive,” related Mngometulu.

Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Steven Shongwe, admitted that they have heard about the allegations made by SWANNEPHA in regard to the expired ART drugs.

However, he said they were yet to investigate the matter to find out what is going on in the hospital.

On the issue of quality, he said nothing to that effect has been reported to the ministry.

The PS promised to give a detailed report tomorrow.


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