Specially trained and accredited pharmacists in South Africa will now be allowed to dispense medicines to prevent HIV and TB and to treat uncomplicated HIV without a doctor’s script. This is because the North Gauteng High Court this week ruled against an application by a private doctors’ association attempting to block the initiative. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the judgment and rounds up some responses.
In August 2021, the South African Pharmacy Council published legislation in the Government Gazette to enable pharmacists to prescribe and dispense antiretroviral medicines for the treatment and prevention of HIV. A legal challenge then put the brakes on the initiative and the courts are now set to decide whether it can continue. Catherine Tomlinson reports.
The top priority in our HIV programme should be to make it as easy as possible for people to start and stay on treatment. Yet, as a number of provincial reports released this year by community monitoring group Ritshidze have shown, there are many healthcare system factors that work directly against this objective. Spotlight editor Marcus Low considers some of the potential solutions.
Having to collect one’s medicines at overcrowded public sector clinics with long queues can be time-consuming, disruptive, and, these days, may expose one to a risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. Thabo Molelekwa takes stock of South Africa’s centralised chronic medicines dispensing and distribution programme, the Department of Health’s system for allowing more people to collect their chronic medicines closer to their homes or workplaces.
In what Spotlight understands to be a world-first, South Africa is on the brink of allowing pharmacists with the required permits to prescribe HIV medicines without people first having to get a script from a doctor or nurse. Catherine Tomlinson investigates how it will work and why it may be just the boost the country’s HIV response needs.