The Gauteng department of health has observed an increase in the number of TB and HIV patients defaulting on medication since the lockdown was implemented in March.
“This has exacerbated the loss-to-follow-up rate of TB and HIV patients which has remained a challenge nationally since the beginning of the health programmes owing to a number of factors such as high mobility, incorrect and unreliable addresses due to fear of stigma around TB and HIV,” spokesperson Kwara Kekana said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the department, 1,090 patients failed to collect their TB medication and 10,950 failed to collect their antiretroviral medicines.
“Since the lockdown, the average percentage reduction in medicine collections for TB is 1.4% and 19.6% for HIV,” Kekana said.
As a result, the department is implementing a track-and-trace plan to locate patients who have not collected their treatment.
This will be achieved through ward-based outreach teams.
Meanwhile, the department said the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital remained one of the province’s busiest Covid-19 treating facilities.
“The Gauteng Department of Health has put some measures in place to ensure some of the critical services are rendered at other facilities in order to free up resources at the hospital,” Kekana said.
In addition, alternative arrangements have been made to move less complex cases to Helen Joseph Hospital and other regional hospitals.
Cancer operations, however, are continuing in all departments, divisions and units.
“There are few cancer procedures which have been deferred because the number of theatre lists available per week has been reduced,” Kekana added.
A total of 1,413 operations have been cancelled or deferred since 27 March.
Some of the cancellations include orthopaedics (183), ophthalmology (499) and gastrointestinal endoscopy (gastroscopy, colonoscopy and ERCP) (420).
Gauteng has 2,343 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 1,671 recoveries and 26 deaths.