Friday, June 2, 2017

Medicine Control Council Instrumental in Human Rights Abuse leading to Death and Morbidity


The Medicine Control Council (MCC) closed the laboratory at the Western Province Blood Transfusion Services (WPBTS) that made Stabilized Human Serum (SHS); the immunoglobulins that are made from approximately 40 000 units of blood and that is transfused into a patient who has Primary and/or Secondary Immune Deficiency.   It is also used for burn victims.  The transfusions of SHS save lives and without it, the patients are at great risk of developing a bacterial infection that can be fatal. 
Sadly, because the WPBTS is a non-profit organisation, they do not have the money to build a new laboratory to the specs of the MCC.  And even more sadly, they have decided to not to even try to raise the funds because the cost of a new laboratory is exorbitant.
The cost of immunoglobulin treatment is now imported from the USA and the cost is too high for the sufficient number of treatments per month needed for patients.  The medical aid schemes, Discovery included, are reticent to pay for one treatment a month, meaning that we are only getting half the required dosage to keep us from having a life-threatening infection.  My own particular immunoglobulin treatment is called Octogam.  Most of these treatments are done as an in-hospital treatment due to the severe side-effects it can have and also because the treatments are infusions.
With-holding Immunoglobulin replacement therapy due to the high cost of imported immunoglobulin medication and the resultant shortages that occur is a human rights problem.  We all have the right to life, according to the Constitution of South Africa. 
A statement from the Primary Immune Deficiency Working Group (PIDDSA) of the Allergy Society of South Africa sent this statement out to all the medical aids in the hope of alleviating the situation:
Failure of regular replacement therapy will lead to a dangerous decline in protective antibodies within 1 – 3 months, given a half-life of approximately 21 days of IgG (Immunoglobulin).  A single serious bacterial infection can lead to death or serious morbidity, such as the neurological impairment that may result from bacterial meningitis.  Primary immune Deficient patients cannot discontinue life-saving Immunoglobulin Replacement Therapy.
And what did the Medicine Control Council think the people were supposed to do who need the immunoglobulins to live?   They have contravened the most basic of human rights – and the medical aids are continuing to uphold that human rights abuse.



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