Twelve clinic and two hospitals that fall under the Qaukeni local district are continuing to experience critical drug shortages and stock outs.
The drugs include antiretrovirals (ARVs), antibiotics, diabetes medication as well as treatment for high blood pressure.
A wildcat strike by workers at the Mthatha depot, coupled with a shortage of transport, has continued to affect health services especially in the rural areas. Holy Cross and St Elizabeth hospitals have reported shortages and stock outs.
Since October patients on chronic medication have been given drug supplies that last only two weeks and this has led to adherence concerns as many patients are unable to afford to pay for several trips to the clinics and hospitals.
Currently Qaukeni Clinic is only able to dispense a one-week supply of the ARV Efavirenz (200 mg), a monthÂ’s supply of the ARV 3TC while the ARV tenofovir is completely out of stock.
The sister-in-charge at Qaukeni Mr M Nodunyelwa expressed his concern to OurHealth: "I asked for Efavirenz from Bodweni clinic which is being dispatched now. Tenofovir is out of stock and this crisis is affecting me because people are defaulting their treatment and this is a threat to their lives".
Similar scenarios are playing out at the other clinics.
In another development the Treatment Action Campaign this week met with local trade unions and politicians to discuss the mooted closure of the Mthatha depot. Reports indicate the national and provincial health ministers want the Eastern Cap drug supplies to be centralized in Port Elizabeth.
Local Cosatu chairperson Mr S Madyibhi said they would not accept the move amidst the current drug supply crises in the districts.
TAC district co-ordinator Noloyiso Ntamehlo confirmed that they were hoping to meet with the Eastern Cape Superintendent of Health Dr Siva Pillay to discuss the move.
Â“We know that corruption is taking place and that expired medicines have been discarded in the bushes in Port St Johns,Â” claimed Ntamehlo, adding that moving the depot would not solve the problems.