Orange Farm women report alleged stock outs of prenatal supplements
Women in Orange Farm south of Johannesburg say they were recently told to buy their own prenatal vitamins after the local clinic ran short of pills.
Nomsa Gwegwana may be expecting her third baby but with a youngest child that is 10 years old, Gwegwana says she fears she is a little out of practice.
“My last born child is almost 11 years of age and some of these processes I’ve forgotten about,” said the expecting mom. “I feel so lost in this whole process of pregnancy.”
“With my first and the second pregnancies, we were taught how to take care of ourselves and our unborn babies, but I guess the clinics are not the same,” added Gwegwana who said she was shocked to learn that her local Orange Farm Ext 7 Clinic does not offer antenatal classes due to space constraints
The clinic also recently ran short of antenatal vitamins, said Gwegwana who added that supplements were back in stock at the clinic as of yesterday.
She alleged that nurses had previously sent her away with a sachet of folic acid tablets and told her to purchase the supplement Pregamal as well as vitamin B complex over the counter. Pregamal combines folic acid with a type of iron, ferrous fumarate, and is used to treat iron deficiencies.
The unemployed single mother said she could never afford to purchase the supplements.
“Both my kids are still in school, and I am not working,” she sad. “Tell me how can I afford medication and food at the same time?”
“I can’t afford the pills it’s too expensive,” said Gwegwana, who added that she feared she would not receive the supplements before the baby was born.
First-time mum Cindy Zwane said she was also previous told by clinic nurses to buy her own supplements and said it would have been impossible since she was unemployed.
National, provincial and district departments deny stock out at clinic
Dr Indira Govender is a member of the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa and works in a maternity ward. According to Govender, ferrous sulphate is used to prevent anaemia in pregnancy, a complication that can be deadly. While folic acid and vitamin b12 prevent birth defects.
“Anything to do with maternal health should never be out of stock,” Govender told OurHealth.
Gauteng Department of Health Spokesperson Steve Mabona has denied that the clinic experienced the recent shortage of antenatal vitamins and assured the public that the clinic has enough stock.
National Department of Health Spokesperson Joe Maila also said the national department confirmed with the district pharmacist that the clinic had not experienced a shortage and that the facility had adequate supplies of the supplement.
The civil society coalition Stop the Stock Outs has verified months-long stock outs of vitamin B complex, ferrous sulphate and folic acid in the Eastern Cape and a three-month stock out of ferrous sulphate in the Free State.
Maila stressed that there is no national shortage of the supplements.