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Suppliers blamed for drug shortages

Limpopo health facilities are experiencing a shortage of drugs for patients with arthritis – but the province’s Department of Health says its suppliers are at fault.

A 73-year-old patient at Letaba Hospital, who suffers from high blood pressure and arthritis, told Health-e News that she has been buying the medicine from the pharmacy since the beginning of the year because the facility’s shelves are bare.  

“The doctors didn’t bother to tell me there is no arthritis medication. When I asked why I was not getting all my medication, I was told the hospital has run out,” said the pensioner.

“What happens to those who live far from pharmacies and don’t have money to buy it?” she asked.

Acknowledged

Neil Shikwambana, the spokesperson for the Limpopo Department of Health, said the shortage was not only at Letaba Hospital but was widespread and was due to the suppliers.

“The problem comes directly from the suppliers, who are not bringing enough,” he said.

Shikwambana said the department acknowledged the challenge and, although it was “beyond our control”, was working to find an alternative. He added that it was not certain if the problem could be solved immediately.

“It does happen with other drugs. Recently there was a challenge with ARVs because China was not producing enough.”

He said the situation was complex because medicine can’t just be replaced but must go through a regulation process.  

In October last year, health facilities across the province reported stock-out because of complications of the new system implemented by the national Department of Health and Treasury, which resulted in medicine accumulating at the pharmaceutical depot in Seshego. – Health-e News

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