Hospitals out of medication

2015-05-18 11:33

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Pietermaritzburg - Dwindling supplies of antiretrovirals and basic, essential medication have left Pietermaritzburg and other provincial hospitals without the means to adequately treat their patients.

Doctors and nurses at Pietermaritzburg ­hospitals and clinics have said the shortage of essential and basic medication is becoming ­increasingly frustrating and poses a risk to their patients as they are not being provided with the right medication.

A doctor working at a Pietermaritzburg ­hospital, who would not be named, said ­hospitals and clinics were running out of ­everything from basic iron tablets to epilepsy medication to ARVs.

“There is a huge list of medication that is out of stock in hospitals all over the province because the central supply office is unable to supply the hospitals and clinics.

“It has been difficult. We have had many ­patients rushed to the hospital and having a fit because they cannot get their epilepsy ­medication from the clinics.”

She said many of the clinics and hospitals were out of certain ARVs, which made it ­difficult to prescribe their patients with the right medication. “It is difficult to know what you can and can’t prescribe to patients as we do not know from a day-to-day basis what is available at the hospital’s pharmacy.

“We are having to change patients from one type of ARV to another in a short space of time, and with the changing of ARVs we run the risk of the patient becoming resistant to the ­medication prescribed.

“We are making changes in people’s ­medication that we would never have done ­under normal circumstances,” she said.

A nurse at a Pietermaritzburg hospital, who would not be named, said the hospital had been without paracetamol and certain forms of ARVs for months. “For three months we have been completely out of stock of primary ARVs for children, and have had no pain tablets at all for the last two weeks.

“We have had to resort to giving children the more toxic ARV usually given to adults, and we cannot provide ARVs specifically designed to treat the more resistant form of the virus.”

She said the hospitals were doing their best for their patients and the problem was with the central supply office.

Treatment Action Campaign provincial chair Patrick Mdletshe said he was aware of the problem and it was an issue that faced the entire country.

“TAC had a meeting with Health MEC ­Sibongiseni Dhlomo to address the shortage of medical stock,” he said

“He told us they would be anticipating a shortage in ARVs and other medication, but to anticipate it is not enough; there needs to be a plan in place to fix this.

“We cannot say we understand and accept the shortages just because the department has said they anticipate it. There needs to be a strategy in place to fix this or else we will see patients defaulting and dying.”

Mdletshe said the shortage was at a national level and needed to be addressed immediately.

A provincial Health spokesperson referred The Witness to the national department for comment on the matter.

National Health Department spokesperson Joe Maila said the shortage of medicines was not a national problem and was only an issue in KwaZulu-Natal. “I have not heard that it is a national issue. This is the first time I am hearing of this,” he said.

Asked what the national department would do to help the KZN Health Department, Maila said he “did not know” and that it was the ­provincial department’s job to comment on and fix the issue.

MEC Dhlomo could not be reached for ­comment

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health

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