In-depth: The court ruling that gives qualifying pharmacists the green light to provide HIV and TB meds without a script

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.

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Courts to decide whether pharmacists can start HIV medicines without a doctor’s script

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.

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Opinion: We should make it much easier for people to start and stay on HIV treatment

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.

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How well is SA’s chronic medicines distribution system working?

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.

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