The Western Cape is facing a shortage of vital medication, as a result of “poor management”. The late award of pharmaceutical tenders by the National Department of Health as well as the removal from contracts of coded medicines not listed in the National Essential Medicines list, has led to certain medication in short supply at Western Cape health facilities.
Many of the new contracted suppliers are also unable to increase their production immediately in order to meet the demands of their contract with national government. These stock-outs are affecting all districts and sub-structures in the province.
“This has now happened on numerous occasions over the past six years and I don’t know anymore how to deal with it,” said MEC for Health, Theuns Botha.
The shortage is a comprehensive list of drugs and a broad spectrum of medication, which includes prescription drugs. Botha said generic medication will be available but patients should be aware and are advised that there is confusion amongst patients and the different brands that they use.
The department is also sourcing medicines off-contract, and is engaging with contracted suppliers to expedite delivery by air-shipment, or to procure stock from alternate suppliers at an additional cost. Botha said they are interacting with the pharmaceutical industry on an ongoing basis to source all available medicines required by facilities.
“We have to make alternative plans. We do have a way to alleviate the shortage. We are trying to buy directly from the suppliers but right now it is not a favourable price due to emergency sales. We are trying to obtain from providers and what ever we can get our hands on,” said Botha.
He said he informed the National Health Minister, as well as the National Department of Health in writing of the knock-on effect of the late award of tenders and the deletion of items from contracts.
“As a result of the repeated failure of the National Department to effectively manage these critical pharmaceutical contracts I will be obliged to put the National Minister on terms and proceed with provincial contracts to ensure a reliable supply of essential medication for patients in the Western Cape in future.”
The shortage period is still uncertain and the department says that there may be a stock out till January or February next year. Patients are urged to contact their local clinics or Wynand Erasmus on 021 483 8408 and Zaheer Moolla on 021 483 2431 for more information.
Botha said: “I apologise for the inconvenience that will result during this time but earnestly requests the full cooperation of all those affected to minimize the impact of the unfortunate situation.” VOC (Nishta Sookdiyal)