The exorbitant prices of TB and cancer drugs in the country is really becoming a source of worry, especially to poor South Africans who cannot afford them. Hence, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has urged government to consider and help them.
In South Africa, research shows that cancer remains one of the leading causes of death in the country, especially breast, cervical and prostate cancer.
According to Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa might end up counting corpses like it was during war if these poor South Africans are not taken into consideration.
Speaking on Tuesday while presenting his budget vote in Parliament, Motsoaledi expressed deep concern for the sky-high costs of medical care, using cancer drugs as an example.
The minister told Parliament that “Anybody who is desperate to remain alive and tries to obtain treatment at current costs will end up in poverty. Just as the price of ARVs were unaffordable then, cancer drugs are devilishly unaffordable today.
Two years ago, I was regarded as exaggerating, or outright insane by some when I spoke openly against pharmaceutical companies that were planning a price onslaught against us. Today, that onslaught, which I had foreseen, is here with us,” he said.
Establishing some facts, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said a breast cancer patient, who needed Trastuzumab, commonly known as Herceptin, will need to have at least R500 000 for annual treatment.
The minister further broke it down in this order:
1. R396 613.00, for colorectal cancer;
2. R960 000.00 for metastatic melanoma;
3. R204 000.00 for MRD-TB; and
4. R832 000.00 for XDR-TB
The minister, who showed deep concern about the issue urged all and sundry to employ the same solidarity used to reduce the price of ARVs in the fight against non-communicable diseases and drug resistant TB.
He also related that in the country, people at the top class often have access to healthcare services because they can easily afford or pay for most exorbitant drugs but people of lower status often lose their lives because they cannot afford such healthcare services.
However, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi added that a fair, just and equitable healthcare system that would provide everyone with access to good quality care should be put in place in the country.