The Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) has called on chronic patients to find alternative ways to get their medicines during the lockdown. It warned that if patients default on their lifesaving drugs, consequence could be dire and lead to loss of life. This comes after reports that there has been a drop in the number of chronic patients collecting their medication since the lockdown.

“Fortunately the industry has now embraced telehealth so people can contact their GPs their specialists telephonically and be able to access the script and go collect them from pharmacies. What is likely to happen is a lot of people default on their treatment, we might see complications coming up, worst case scenario loss of lives or just an increase in the claims experience” says BHF’s Managing Director, Doctor Katlego Mothudi.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says it requested government to give at least six months’ supply of treatment for HIV and TB at the start of the national lockdown.

TAC says this would assist in restricting movement during lockdown but also ensuring that patients have sufficient supply of lifesaving drugs during the lockdown. This comes after reports that there’s been a drop in the number of chronic patients collecting their medication since the lockdown.

In Gauteng, about 10-thousand HIV and a thousand TB patients have not collected their medication in the public sector since March. Chairperson of TAC, Sibongile Tshabalala says their request seemingly fell on deaf ears.

“The problem is that most of the clinics were affected by COVID-19 and there was no communication with the patients to say why the clinics were closed and there were no alternatives where people can collect their medication,” says Tshabalala

Deputy Director-General in the Health Department Dr Anban Pillay says people with pre-existing conditions deemed to be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, are afraid to leave home, and this also compromises their consultations.

“I mean we’ve said people should stay at home, so people are quite afraid to contract COVID. People are collecting their chronic medication, they are sending family members but they are not necessarily coming in for the consult. We need to emphasise to people that they must continue to manage those diseases because the problem is if you contract COVID and you have uncontrolled diabetes or hypertension etc the outcome is far worse in that group from the evidence we have seen thus far.”