Lifestyle

Stop Stockouts raises alarm on contraceptive shortage in SA

Stop Stockouts raises alarm on contraceptive shortage in SA
Investigations conducted by the Stop Stock Outs Project (SSP) reveal that health facilities  across Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape have reported  ongoing stockouts of contraception medications, including Nur-isterate, Ovral, Triphasil and   Depo Provera. 
To avert further erosion of the right to sexual reproductive health, the SSP is  calling on the National Department of Health (NDoH) to review the supply chain 
management and distribution procedures of contraceptives and produce a comprehensive  remediation plan that prioritises contracts with reliable suppliers who can ensure an  uninterrupted supply of contraceptives to facilities. 
“Health facilities in affected provinces are increasingly reporting stockouts of more than one  kind of contraception,” says Dr Indira Govender of Rural Doctors Association of Southern   Africa, an SSP consortium member. 
“Depo Provera is the most widely used and easy to   administer contraceptive in public facilities across South Africa, and the ongoing stockouts 
leave many women who depend on it at a loss, without alternatives.”
SSP says they raised the alarm over contraceptives stockouts in 2018, yet the problem persists.  Despite being well informed about stockouts, the Department of Health is failing to address  the issues. 
“The impact of a lack of access to contraceptives places women at increased risk of   unwanted pregnancy, economic stress and compromises their psychological wellbeing. All of   which undermines reproductive and contraceptive health rights,” explains Govender. 

Furthermore, there is a shortage of Implanon in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane , in the City of  Johannesburg and the Sedibeng District as a result of the gap caused by stockout of   injectable contraceptives and pills. 

“We have also observed a shortage of Mifegyne in some of the facilities that offer safe   termination of pregnancy services,” says SSP Manager, Kopano Klass. 

In North West Province, SSP partner organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors  Without Borders) has been supplying the Department of Health with a limited quantity of  intra-uterine devices and emergency contraceptives, but this is not a sustainable  intervention. 
Ultimately, the responsibility to procure medications remains the duty of the  provincial and national health departments 

In addition to reviewing and improving the current systems of supply chain management   and distribution for contraceptives, SSP is calling for the development of a standard referral  guideline to be circulated to health facilities, that describes how clinical staff must handle   stockouts and appropriately advise women who are unable to access the contraceptive of  their choice at the initial point of service.