Hospital dispensaries not closed during strike

2010-08-30 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has urged people on chronic medication not to be afraid to collect these medicines from hospitals and clinics.

Since the beginning of the public sector strike two weeks ago, many patients have faced difficulties with collecting their medications because most healthcare workers are not at work.

At the beginning of the strike, access to public health facilities was barred by strikers, which prompted the KZN government to obtain a court interdict preventing protesters from intimidating workers and patients, declaring 50 metres as the picket line and compelling all essential workers to go back to work.

Commenting on the situation, head of department for Health Dr Sibongile Zungu said: “It was in this province where multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and extreme drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) came to be regarded as a crisis. When TB patients go without their medication, we risk spreading these two types of TB to the general population.”

In KwaZulu-Natal over 120 000 people are on the TB treatment programme and over 400 000 more are on ARV programmes.

Department spokesperson Chris Maxon said other patients who receive diabetic, hypertension or psychiatric treatment might develop serious complications.

Zungu concluded: “We wish to let the public know that we have not closed any of our facilities in spite of the public servants’ strike.”

He said the labour court had interdicted strikers from intimidating patients and the SAPS were also deployed in all facilities to protect the rights of the public and workers. “Our facilities will announce alternative plans where the impact of the strike has made it difficult for service delivery,” Zungu said.

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