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Open letter to Minister Aaron Motsoaledi

24 June 2014, 19:30

Firstly, let me congratulate you on your performance in the previous term of office. Your department is one of the departments that performed outstandingly and i hope it will continue to do so.

Minister, i want to bring to your attention the kind of pharmaceutical services (private) we are getting in South Africa. Private pharmacies are providing sub-standard services to the citizens of South Africa. These continue to happen even in the presence of the South African Pharmacy Council and the Department of Health.

This practice is known by the pharmacy council and nothing is being done to change the situation.

When the laws were amended to allow non-pharmacist to own pharmacies, I thought it was for a good reason. That was done to improve access to pharmaceutical care by the majority of South African citizens. The law has, however, had very negative impact in as far as improving the health of South Africans is concern.

Pharmacies are owned by “Anyone”, anyone hires “Anyone” to work in a pharmacy, “Anyone” end-up providing services that must be provided by a qualified registered pharmacist. “Anyone” gives everything (medicines) to patients for different ailments. Antibiotics, schedule 5 items and over-the-counter medicines are all afforded the same status by “Anyone”.

Minister, your fight against Hiv/Aids, TB, Diabetes, and Hypertension is noticeable. Unfortunately, the “Anyones” in private pharmacies will trivialize your efforts in dealing with the major diseases facing the majority of South Africans. Resistance against anti-retroviral and resistance against antibiotics are escalating at a very high level. Compliance to treatment regimen by patients is diminishing due to improper counselling by “Anyones” in the pharmacies.

Minister, i am asking you to review the laws governing the ownership of pharmacies in South Africa. I don’t see gardeners owning law firms; i don’t see cleaners owning medical practices, why must pharmacies be subjected to such?  The big chain pharmacies (who benefit from the pharmacy ownership laws) only operate in very urban areas. Our people in rural areas still don’t have access to pharmaceutical services.

The situation has let to corruption by the big-chain pharmacies, Department of Health Personnel, Pharmacy Council Personnel and by “Anyone” in acquiring operating licenses for their pharmacies. It takes a normal person up to 8 (eight) months to acquire a pharmacy license, and about three weeks by corrupt individuals.

Mr Minister, please look into the services provided by private pharmacies and pharmacy ownership laws urgently. We cannot expect proper pharmaceutical services from people who haven’t even passed Grade 12 (“Anyone”).

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