Welcome to SyNCH (Synchronised National Communication in Health )

Over the past decade, South Africa has experienced an unprecedented growth in patients requiring access to long-term therapies. Not only has South Africa introduced universal access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) for patients living with HIV and AIDS, but there has also been a steady increase in the number of patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), requiring chronic therapy.

South Africa’s changing epidemiological profile has led to an over-extension of public sector healthcare facilities including primary health care (PHC) clinics. This has placed enormous strain on available resources and has contributed towards medicine shortages and declining quality of care.

Typically, a patient with a chronic disease is issued with a repeat prescription for six months. Between six-monthly clinical assessments, the patient needs to visit the healthcare facility merely to collect medication. On a daily basis, as much as 70% of a facility’s prescription load will be devoted to servicing repeat prescriptions.

The patient experience tends to be one of long waiting times and, occasionally, repeat visits to facilities in order to collect medicines that were not available during the routine visit. This poses potential adherence barriers which may lead to poor health outcomes, and places strain on the patient in terms of transport costs and loss of income.

Private sector pharmacies and health facilities are able to offer longer hours of operation than do public sector facilities, including weekends. In addition, private sector outlets are often more accessible from patients’ places of employment which, when coupled with shorter waiting times, allows for the collection of medicines without the need to taking a day's leave or forgoing a day's income.

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