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Medicine availability improves after depot takeover

Millions at risk due to supply challenges caused by COVID-19 .(File photo)
Written by Joba Matsheng

The North West Department of Health has credited a government takeover of the province’s only medical depot with helping stabilise drug supplies in the province.

Shortages of HIV, TB and diabetes treatment were reported in May and July this year in a handful of North West clinics.

Shortages of HIV, TB and diabetes treatment were reported in May and July this year in a handful of North West clinics.

In 2011, the provincial government took over the previously privatised operations at the Mmabatho medical depot following recurring medicine stock outs in 2010 and 2011. Now, the North West government claims it has all but eliminated stock outs of essential drugs such as antiretrovirals and tuberculosis treatment, according to a recently issued statement.

“We promised to turn around the situation by substantially increasing availability of drugs and medicine,” said MEC for Health Magome Masike in the statement. “I am happy to report that the situation has improved.”

He added that expanded pharmacies at the Ganyesa District Hospital, about 70 kms north of Vryburg, and the Bloemhof Community Health Centre are helping to move medicine supplies closer to rural communities.

However, Masike also acknowledged that improving supply chain management in the province was a work in progress.

OurHealth has been monitoring medicine availability at Klerksdorp’s Tsholofelo Clinic since June 2013. The clinic had gone about a year without reporting a stock out until late July when it and the nearby Park Street Clinic experienced stock outs of HIV and tuberculosis medication as well as insulin, which some diabetics must take daily.

According to the civil society project Stop the Stock Outs, the only other stock out reported by citizens in the province in the last year occurred about a month prior and was largely confined to HIV medication.

Maria Gaboutlwele from Jouberton Extension 22 suffers from hypertension, or high blood pressure. She is one of the 120 patients that Tsholofelo Clinic. She says that she has never been turned away empty handed.

“I have been taking the medication for about 16 months now but have never experienced any disappointment to this day,” Gaboutlwele told OurHealth.

About the author

Joba Matsheng

Joba Matsheng is an OurHealth Journalist in Dr Kenneth Kaunda District in North West.

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