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Contingency plans for health department strike

The country’s medicine regulatory body has developed “contingency plans” to ensure that it’s “lifesaving” mandate is not disrupted amid continued protest action at the National Department of Health’s (NDoH) headquarters.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is moving out of the affected Civitas building in Tshwane in the medium term, and has opened emergency phone lines, “to ensure that health products available to the public are safe, effective and of good quality”, it said in a statement.

According to SAHPRA, the strike action, which began in April, has affected its ability to deliver its essential services and, at present, even the delivery of paper documents to its offices is a challenge.

The protesters are striking in response to what they term an “uninhabitable” working environment due to the worsening condition of the building, after emergency repairs were initiated on April 20.

The NDoH’s head of communications Popo Maja told Health-e News that although “unions appealed to staff to report to work today even though they are not working”, protest action continued on Wednesday.

“Most managers are here at work but staff are protesting at the foyer,” he said.

Way forward

On the way forward, Maja said that the NDoH “registers the complaints of the staff as legitimate and we are working very hard with the Department of Public Works to resolve the issues”.

According to SAHPRA, it is necessary for the regulator to temporarily move its operations off site to be able to provide its “lifesaving” services.

“Part of SAHPRA’s responsibility is also to issue permits allowing individual seriously ill patients suffering from life-threatening conditions to have access in emergencies to currently unregistered medicines. Special permits are also necessary to allow hospitals to maintain supplies of unregistered medicines required for emergency treatment of critically ill patients,” it said.

To allow for this and for SAHPRA to respond to threats to the safety of South Africans from health products it has opened the following emergency lines to the public: Director for Operations and Administration, Ms Estelle Taute – 0795287755 for submissions; Acting Director Tohlang Sehloho – 0823020222; Manager Section 21 Orthodox medicines, Dr Shyamli Munbodh – 0721344546; Manager-Pharmacovigilance Florah Matlala – 0833873358; Manager Biological medicines, Khamusi Mutoti – 0713022135; Acting Director S21 Veterinary medicines, Dr Alice Sigobodhla – 0743791178 and Section 21 Orthodox medicines Adelaide Molatoli – 0637718906. – Health-e News.

An edited version of this story was published by Health24.com

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