OurHealth Public Health and Health Systems

Essential medicines shortage hit Gauteng

Drug stockouts affect peoples' lives
Written by Thabo Molelekwa

Gauteng hospitals and clinics are not receiving all the vital and essential medicines they need, with the problem being particularly bad on the East Rand.

Ekurhuleni is currently experiencing medication shortages at various institutions.(File Photo)

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

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98