Making medication available through innovation and care | Western Cape Government

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Making medication available through innovation and care

15 September 2022

The Western Cape Department of Health makes millions of medicine parcels available to clients through innovative ways to ensure they have easy access to their medication.

The pharmacy and staff play a vital role in the treatment of patients and during September we commemorate those individuals as part of Pharmacy Month.

Staff work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure all patients have the their medication when and where they need them. This can either be at their local health facility or as part of their chronic club at an off-site which is closer to where a client lives. 

The Department has 134 chronic clubs/access points across the Province and have prepped and issued 2 642 476 medicine parcels for 2022 to date. Of these parcels, 2 413 131 parcels have been home delivered. 

The clubs were implemented to help pharmacists to assist more patients while reducing the number of patients at health facilities and to reduce patient waiting times, thus improving the patient’s overall experience. This also serves as an innovative way for patients to be part of their health journey and take responsibility for their health. Patients who are stable and who need chronic medication can collect their medication at an off-site in their community without the need to visit their local clinic.

The Department's Chronic Dispensing Unit (CDU), an out-sourced and centralised dispensing intervention for medicine has been a key establishment since 2005. The CDU dispenses medicine for stable, public-sector patients and collects prescriptions for stable chronic patients from health facilities, dispenses the medicines, and returns them to the facilities which the patients attend.  The CDU has prepared and issued more than 41 million packs since inception and project to reach the 5 million packs delivered mark by the end of December 2022. Compliance with chronic medication plays an important role in the health plan of a patient as well as the success of the CDU programme.  The number of clubs in use at the CDU is more than 6 500 in the province.


“This type of innovation is important as it not only limits the amount of patients attending our facilities and their waiting times but it also lessens the burden on our health system. It enables and encourages the patients to take care and responsibility for their own health, which requires both a whole of government and whole of society approach,” says Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Minister of Health.


“It is important to keep using your chronic medicine as prescribed, even when you feel much better (It is the medicine that makes you feel better!). Do not stop taking your medicine without talking to your pharmacist or healthcare provider. If you get medicine in your chronic medicine parcel that does not look familiar, ask your pharmacist. It may only be a generic replacement (the same medicine but manufactured under another brand name by a different company). This will prevent you from possibly drinking the same medicine from two differently looking boxes and accidentally taking more than you require. Our pharmacists can also advise you if you experience any unwanted effect from your prescribed medicines. If you are unsure of how and when to drink your medicine or what your medicine is prescribed for, ask you pharmacist or your healthcare worker,” says Johannes Hattingh, Manager Pharmaceutical Services, Garden Route District.


“Look after your health and make sure you eat healthy and exercise, this can have a positive impact on chronic illnesses and the need for medication,” says Chronic Club Leader for PlettTown Clinic, Nomnqophiso Makhonza.


Medicine safety

It is important to safely dispose of medicine that you no longer use by bringing it back to the clinic or health facility or off-site that you received it from. “Do not share medication and return all unused medicines to the pharmacy for safe destruction. When medicine becomes old, it is unsafe to use. Unused medicine in homes is also very dangerous for children, so rather return the unused medicine to the pharmacy. Store all your medicine out of reach of children. Adult medicine should not be given to a child and not all medicine for children can be given to a baby. It is also dangerous to share your prescription medication with other people because you don’t know how it will affect them. If you are in doubt, talk to your pharmacist!” urges Hattingh.


The theme for Pharmacy Month is: Women and Youth

 Our facilities offer a range of medicine for women and youth, such as family planning pills and injectables, and important medication such as folic acid for expecting mothers. “We remind mothers that during pregnancy it is unsafe to take many medicines that are otherwise seen as harmless. Rather ask advice from your pharmacist or healthcare provider before taking medicine during pregnancy. Always inform your healthcare provider and your pharmacist if you are pregnant. It will help them to protect you and your baby,” says Pharmacists Assistant, Shanaz Prins.