Moretele clinics face chronic shortage of medicine 

A board listing services provided at the Mathibestad clinic
Mathibestad is one of five clinics Health-e news visited that have medicine shortage. (Precious Mashiane)

Koketso Khoza (29) has gone to Sediane clinic in Sutelong in Moretele twice in two years, and both times she coudn’t access adequate healthcare.

This week she took her 11-month-old baby who was showing symptoms of a cold or flu to the facility. She returned home with no medication.

Last year in May when the baby was about a month old Khoza had taken her to the clinic. The infant had what looked like an eye infection, and sores all over her body. Then too, Khoza was told to go to her nearest pharmacy because the clinic didn’t have medication.

“It’s pointless for us to have a clinic that doesn’t have medicine. We go to the clinic because we can’t afford doctors, so when we are told to go buy the medications it’s an insult. I sometimes don’t even have the energy to take my daughter there because I’m expecting that I won’t get help.” 

Khoza is a student, and unemployed. She doesn’t have a choice but to go to Sediane clinic for healthcare. 

Recurring problem 

Medicine stock outs is a recurring problem, which Health-e News has previously reported on.  At the time, the North West Department of Health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said that the shortage was dealt with. Less than a year later more than five clinics in Moretele sub-district have a shortage of basic medication for colds and flu. 

Mmamogolo Golela (100) complains about pain in her joints. She says the only thing that helps her is a topical cream that she used to get at Mathibestad clinic. But now when she goes there they give her excuses.

“For the past six months I have been buying the cream from pharmacies spending R200 of my pension on something I should be getting for free at the clinic. I am old and sometimes I get pains and I need to rub myself,“ says Golela.

Health-e news visited five clinics in Moretele: Leseding, Mathibestad, Mogogelo, Lefatlheng and Sediane clinics. The shortage of medicine was confirmed by at least one worker at each facility. 

“We are tired of telling people that we don’t have a certain medicine, it feels like we are not doing our jobs. This has been going on for a while,” says a nurse at Mathibestad clinic who asked not to be named.

“Even when the department brings the medicine, they don’t bring enough because we cater for a lot of people.  We are also not safe because sometimes when you tell someone that there is no medication they even threaten us saying that we are taking the medication for our families.” 

Department aware of shortage 

Lekgethwane confirms that there is a medicine shortage in Moretele saying that the district needs to strengthen and support operational managers in the clinics. 

He further adds that the MEC appointed a medicine availability intervention team in November 2023. The team’s mandate is to investigate all challenges experienced in medicine distribution and to put interventions in place where challenges have been identified. 

 “Currently medicine distribution is done through pharmacies at various health facilities. Bigger hospitals have bigger pharmacies and they feed clinics within the same district or sub-district,” he explains. 

Lekgethwane went on to say that the Moretele sub-district pharmacy does have medication for flu, pain, burns as well as antibiotics. At a facility level, Lefatlheng, Leseding and Mathibestad clinics do not have flu medication but orders have been placed, he says. 

Other facilities are operating with severely constrained stock, for example Sediane only has stocks of Allergex, antibiotics and Panado. – Health-e News


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