This is a problem the Department of Health was alerted about two years ago, specialists say.
The Stop Stockouts Project, a coalition of six civil society organisations, has revealed that some provinces in South Africa are experiencing a shortage in contraceptive medicine.
Women often use contraceptive medicine to avoid pregnancy. The birth control option also allows women to practice their rights to terminating gestation. Sometimes, the choice is not theirs if, for instance, the parturiency came as a consequence of sexual assault.
As reported by eNCA, in recent times, South Africa has experienced a shortage of contraceptive medicine, particularly the injectable birth control option.
According to Indira Govender, a public health medicine specialist, contraceptive stock has been dwindling at an alarming rate in at least four provinces since as early as July 2018.
Govender explained that this was discovered the organisation conducted a hot-spotting test to check if there were any stockouts of medicine in February.
Based on the results of the test, it was found that Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape are the four regions battling with an alarmingly low supply of the three-month contraceptive injection, the implant (which lasts for about five years), and the combined oral pill.
At this time, medical experts can’t put a finger on why there is a low stock-count of birth control medicine in these regions.
“There [are] a lot of reasons given by the Department of Health. They say things like ‘supplier-related issues’, ‘overheating of stock in transit’, ‘underproduction’, ‘closure of plants’. It is unclear exactly what the reason is and why it can’t be better managed,” Govender explained.
Govender revealed that the problem could have been avoided if the department had heeded their warnings two years ago. Als, the specialist advised women affected by the shortages to seek alternatives from medical centres.
“Unfortunately, if you have a clinic that is out of stock of the injectables, the pill, and the implant, then it’s unlikely you’re going to get anything other than some condoms to use,” she said.
While the matters are unrelated, The Conversation recently revealed that parts of the United Kingdom were also experiencing shortages in hormonal contraceptives. The publication noted that the shortage may not be as critical, but it can “still have a life-altering impact.”
Hormonal contraceptives in the UK are in short supply.— The Conversation (@ConversationUK) February 12, 2020
While this is not as critical as a shortage of, say, cancer drugs, it can still have a life-altering impact.
Explainer by @susanwalker67, researcher. https://t.co/AP0Fty155T