Health-e (Cape Town)

8 November 2012

South Africa: Vhembe Clinic Drug Supplies Run Dry

Two local clinics are experiencing critical drug shortages, with both reporting that they are at times only able to dispense Panado.

Sister Ntakuseni Nethisaula is a nurse at Shakadza Clinic where they have had drugs shortages and stock outs for several months.

“Ever since the winter there has been a huge shortage of medicines here in our clinic. We are struggling to deal with our patients because it is sometimes very hard to get to tell a patient that there is no medicine to give them," said a distressed Nethisaula.

Patients who spoke to OurHealth blamed the health department for the problem, accusing them of not doing anything to remedy the problem.

Tshililo Mbedzi, who is a patient at Shakadza Clinic, said the clinic and the patients who rely on it were always last in line because of their rural setting.

"Sometimes we think that it is all the Department of Health's fault because when it comes to the local clinics, and mostly these in the deep rural areas of our province, they are considered last in line when it comes to the supply of medication," said Mbedzi.

“I once came to the clinic when my daughter was very sick and I was transferred to Matavhela Clinic because there was no medicines, but when were got there they were in exactly the same situation, with no drugs,” Mbedzi added.

A nurse who works at Matavhela Clinic, but who asked to remain anonymous, confirmed to OurHealth that there had been times when their clinic had no medication whatsoever.

"It is a challenge because most of the times we send the patients home with no medicine and that is because the only medicine that there is no shortage of is Panado. Patients don’t always understand why they are given Panado for almost every sickness that they present with," she said.

Another patient, Nditsheni Mbevhana, said they often faced huge and unnecessary travel costs as they are sent from one clinic to another only to find they are all out of the drugs needed.

"You can find that I am transferred from Shakadza to Matavhela Clinic only to find that they are facing the similar problem. We have to pay huge amounts of money for taxi fares for nothing whereas we could have used the money to go to the specialist," said Mbevhana, who lives in Shakadza.

The taxi fare between Shakadza and Matavhela is R50 one-way while a trip to Thohoyandou, the closest town, takes 90 minutes and costs much more.

OurHealth also tried to get a response from Thengwe Clinic, but they declined to comment.

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