South Africa, with a population of approximately 50 million people, has the 4th highest burden of disease related to HIV infection in the world. According to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS South Africa report (2009), an estimated 17% of the population were living with HIV in South Africa.
The fight against AIDS has created a major strain on a health system already weakened by inadequate infrastructure, a shortage of suitable qualified health personnel, weak information systems resulting in a lack of quality information for decision making, poor management, and increasing numbers of patients with chronic diseases (including non-communicable diseases), the emergence of new conditions such as multi- and extensively-drug resistant TB, and high maternal, neonatal and child mortality.
The Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services’ (SIAPS) predecessors, Rational Pharmaceutical Management (RPM) Plus and Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS), have built up an excellent working relationship with the South African Government and local government counterparts at all levels (National, Provincial, District and Health Facilities) through extensive consultation and the development and implementation of a set of technical interventions that focus on system strengthening and building local capacity. The holistic approach used by SPS in terms of supporting pharmaceutical services to improve service delivery has allowed support in areas that are not unique to pharmacy, including leadership development and infection control, to address the emerging priorities of government.
The overall goal of the SIAPS program in South Africa is to strengthen the capacity of pharmaceutical systems at all levels to support the South African Government priority health programs and initiatives to improve health outcomes. Program aims include strengthening pharmaceutical sector governance, enhancing capacity for pharmaceutical supply management and services, improving use of information for decision making for pharmaceutical services, improved access to medicine, improved availability of medical products and improved rational use of medicine and patient safety.