Western Cape Health Minister Orders Probe into Shortage of Chronic Medication
Following the surfacing last week of a shortage of chronic medication mainly at clinics in the Metropole, Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, requested a detailed investigation into the reasons for the shortages, as well as proposals to change current management procedures to avoid a similar occurrence.
Botha said, "I realise it causes major inconvenience to patients when chronic medication is not available. I have requested an investigation into the causes of the problem. We need to know why supplies are not provided on schedule, who the responsible parties are and what needs to be done to avoid the problem."
Botha said, "We hope that the majority of the supply chain problems will be solved by the end of July. Unfortunately all chronic medicines are affected. Our latest update today is that eight products are out of stock, of which only one has no alternative pack size available."
"In the mean time we are trying to source medicines to help us through the crisis period. Patients should go back to their community health centres and ask the pharmacy managers to source alternatives."
The Western Cape Medical Supplies Centre is in daily contact with suppliers to request urgent supply of outstanding deliveries, and to deliver in terms of their state tender commitments. A large number of these suppliers source their products from overseas, notably India and China, which has of late been delayed by volcanic ash air travel problems and the Transnet strikes which affected the unloading of container shipments. The delays are practically from all suppliers of chronic medication.
In order to avoid a situation where bulk medication is out of stock, the Western Cape Medical Supplies Centre accepts partial delivery of an order for medicines, and then apportions them to health facilities to ensure the more frequent delivery of smaller quantities of medicines.
The Western Cape Department of Health meets on a weekly basis with Metro District Health Services Pharmacy Services and the Western Cape Medical Supplies Centre to improve contract management with pharmaceutical suppliers. In this way arrangements can be made with alternate suppliers. Medicine suppliers have once again been requested to bring forward their delivery dates for the required medicines.
The Western Cape Department of Health has been informed that when the National Department of Health is informed of the unavailability of certain medicines, similar medicines are then imported from other countries.
Mr Theuns Botha
Western Cape Minister for Health