Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said the medicine shortages were because of space problems in the regional distribution depot.
According to a recent presentation by the Gauteng Health Department to the Health Committee of the Gauteng Legislature, there was 98.13% availability of essential medicines at health facilities from April 2016 to March this year. The report said while vital medicines stocks rated 98.56% availability for this period, this was below the target of 99% availability.
“The real target should be closer to 100%, as even a 1% drop means thousands of patients not receiving their correct medicine,” said Jack Bloom of the Democratic Alliance.
Poor supplier performance
The department blames poor supplier performance, with non-adherence to contractual lead-times, as well as erratic ordering by institutions for their failure to reach the target.
According to the report, distribution of essential medicines by the provincial department is worst on the East Rand, where availability at clinics varied from 89% to 94% last year.
Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said that the East Rand problem was that the medical depot at Nigel was too small to supply the 93 clinics, as well as old age homes and some NGOs in the area.
This problem, she said, was eased by weekly deliveries to the depot. The supply of ARVs and TB medicine was also being moved to a depot in Germiston. Ramokgopa conceded that this was still not enough to ensure full availability in Ekurhuleni.
“It is unacceptable that there are gaps in medicine supply and delivery in Gauteng state hospitals and clinics,” said Bloom.
“There should be more use of direct supply from companies to health facilities instead of a reliance on inefficient regional depots.”
Not enough for the patients
According the Treatment Action Campaign, Ekurhuleni is currently experiencing medication shortages at various institutions.
“At clinics like Rondebult there is a shortage of TB and diabetes treatment – there is not enough for the patients,” said Bongani Radebe of the TAC in Vosloorus. He added that patients were being given enough treatment for only two weeks at a time.
The Gauteng Department of Health said the MEC was working hard to address this.
“All these problems have been highlighted by MEC Ramokgopa herself, and she is attending to them to ensure patient care is not affected negatively,” said Prince Hamnca, Gauteng Health Department spokesperson. – Health-e News.
An edited version of this story was also published in Health24