Health bodies urge public not to use looted medication

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The Kalapeng pharmacy in Mams Mall that was fully looted.
The Kalapeng pharmacy in Mams Mall that was fully looted.
News24/Alex Mitchley
  • Health bodies are concerned that the use of looted medication without supervision may endanger the health of people.
  • According to the councils the recent riots in KZN and Gauteng had long term effects on the health system. 
  • They say the effects of the riots were already being felt. 

South Africa's statutory health regulatory bodies have urged the public to refrain from using looted medicines.

The South African African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC), South African Nursing Council (SANC) and South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) have condemned the recent riots that saw, among others, stores, warehouses, and healthcare facilities being vandalised and looted. 

The unrest wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng. Clinics, pharmacies, and general practitioner surgeries were attacked and ransacked. 

According to the health bodies, the availability of controlled substances and looted medicines may endanger the health of community members who may consume them without supervision and guidance from healthcare professionals.  

READ | Half of KZN patients have no chronic medication. Here’s how looting affected SA’s Covid vaccine roll-out

"We would like to urge the public not to utilise any medicines that are not accessed through authorised health care institutions. You may report such illegal activity to SAHPRA or to law enforcement agencies," they said in a joint statement.

They said the looting and violence on healthcare infrastructures amid the Covid-19 pandemic would fuel fire at a time where medicines, including vaccines, and access to health services were virtually obligatory. 

"We appeal to citizens looting and destroying the healthcare infrastructure and disrupting the provision of health care to consider the long-term consequences of their actions on the health of communities.

"Without health care services, the requisite medicines and vaccines, we will have unnecessary deaths and cause further pandemonium, including severe damage to the economy," the bodies said. 

They added that with the help of the Health Department, they were working closely to ensure the provision of essential medicine, including chronic medication and vaccines, were restored. 

The health councils appealed to communities, religious and political leaders to spread the word that the acts of violence and criminality were not only harming the economy but were also "senseless and counterproductive".

The councils said:

The impact of the destruction on public health is already being felt in communities, with members of the community deprived of health care, chronic patients unable to access medicines, and Covid-19 vaccine sites and the vaccines themselves being lost to destruction and looting.

The bodies reiterated that the health and prosperity of the nation and defeating poverty, unemployment and inequality, can never be achieved through the destruction of livelihoods, the economy and much-needed infrastructure. 

"Therefore, let us preserve what is left of the gains in health and economic growth and immediately adopt non-violent means to conflict resolution."

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