Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kaposi’s Sarcoma

We have two patients on the CHIPS program who have Kaposi’s Sarcoma. This is an opportunistic cancer that is common among HIV positive people. It causes big dark ugly skin lesions to form on parts of their bodies. One of the ladies has it all over her face as well as her body. It can become painful and infected. If a person has this, they are considered stage 4 HIV disease. The only treatment is chemotherapy. The government hospital in Mbabane tries to treat these patients, but frequently run out of drugs and are unable to complete their treatments. There is a list that the patients are placed on to wait until they receive drug in order to get treatment. The last I checked about 2 months ago, the list was over 100 people. In the mean time these people die, without treatment. The only way to get the drug right now is to pay for it yourself. Many people are not able to do this, as is the case with our patients. We are not able to pay this for them, as we are not set up financially to be able to take care of this.
Along the same lines of the government hospital not having drugs; I was on the surgical ward yesterday seeing one of our breast cancer patients who had just had a mastectomy (removal of the breast), the day before. She was in severe pain, and I asked what they were giving her and was told, Panadol or Tylenol. When we looked at what the doctor had ordered, we saw an anti-inflammatory drug called Voltarin. I asked if she was receiving this and was told that it was OS (out of stock). So I asked, “What about Ibuprofen?” The nurse called the pharmacy and they said that is out of stock as well. They don’t have any idea when they will receive it. I went to the doctor and asked him to please order something stronger for her. These are such simple drugs, so easy to get, if you can pay for them. It is such a shame that people have to suffer unnecessarily!
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