Tshwane recently became the latest district to pilot the National Department of Health’s Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution Programme. As part of this programme, three companies will be distributing chronic medications to pick up points outside of local clinics. These pick up points will include private pharmacies that may be closer to patients or stay open later.
The programme aims to make collecting medications easier for 500,000 patients by March 2016. It has already been rolled out in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Ga-Rankuwa’s Tinyiko Pharmacy and Soshanguve’s Halala Pharmacy outside Pretoria are among some of the first in Tshwane to join the programme.
Patients say they are excited at the prospect of collecting medications closer to home.
Tiny Lukhanyo is HIV positive and is a patient at Mabopane’s Tlamelong Clinic outside Pretoria. He said he was initially thrilled to hear that medicine courier company Pharmacy Direct would be ferrying his medication to a pick up point closer to home.
“We were delighted with the introduction of Pharmacy Direct (because we were told) that it would reduce the queues for collecting medicine,” said Lukhanyo who added that despite the announcement, he still collects his three-month supply of antiretrovirals (ARVs) from his clinic.
The Department of Health introduced three-month supplies of ARVs to reduce the amount of time ARV patients spent queuing at clinics to collect monthly medication. Despite this change, Lukhanyo complained that he still faces a far walk to pick up his medication.
Private pharmacist Peter Mogale owns Mogale Pharmacy in Mabopane outside Pretoria. Mogale says that although district health officials initially approached him to be part of the new programme, they never followed up.
“We were visited by the district health officials once in February,” he said. “(They) promised to get back (to me) with forms so that we could prepare for a memorandum of understanding.”
“I’m still waiting,” Mogale told OurHealth.
According to Mabona, the department is currently looking for more private pharmacies to join the programme.
“We are continuously seeking to find and enter into partnerships with service providers willing to have their premises serve as pick up points,” he said.
An edited version of this story also appeared in the Pretoria News newspaper.
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