Northern areas clinics hit by medication crisis

Neo Bodumela

HUNDREDS of residents in Nelson Mandela Bay’s northern areas who depend on metro clinics as their primary source of healthcare have had to turn to private pharmacies because of a shortage of state-issued medication.

Up to 10 clinics are believed to have run short of medication ranging from contraception pills to chronic medication.

Provincial authorities said last night that part of the blame lay with the clinics themselves, which failed to place the proper orders for medication with the provincial dispensary.

Chronic medication would be dispensed within the week, they promised.

But this was not good enough for patients.

Frustrated patients at the Chatty clinic were yesterday turned away and told to come back later as the clinic would not be dispensing medication. Patient Nazeem Aboukar said he had been going to the clinic for more than two weeks to collect his mother’s medication, but had received nothing.

“They keep telling me to come back early so I can be first in the line. I have been coming here every day at 5.30am for the past two weeks, and after waiting for hours and hours, they tell me to come back the next day.

“They have no medication here. I am frustrated and angry at the people who work in this clinic because my mother is sick at home and she needs help. These people don’t give a damn about us,” he said.

Another patient at the clinic, Leanna Sauls, said: “They told us now that they won’t be giving out any medication today and that we should come back tomorrow. I haven’t received my blood pressure medication for the past month. It’s frustrating.”

At Algoa Park clinic, an asthma sufferer, known only as Lesley, said his life was “being put in danger” because of a shortage of his medication.

“This is the second month that I have not received my asthma medication and I need it because I cannot depend solely on the pipe.

“They keep telling me that the pills that I need are not available and this is becoming a threat to my life. What if something happens? I could die. This is putting my life in danger and it’s not fair.”

A Booysen Park clinic patient who suffers from high blood pressure, Sarah Staasen, said: “I have been waiting a long time for my high blood medication. They gave me one pack and said that I must come back for the other one later. I have been told by other people that there’s no medication here. There’s nothing else I can do but wait.”

Lindelwa Ludidi, who had brought her one-year-old son to the clinic, said: “There’s no medication here. I came to fetch medication for my son who’s sick and I didn’t receive anything. I don’t have any choice but to go and buy it because he’s only a year old and he needs medication.”

Health Department spokesman Siyanda Manana said although the pharmaceutical depot had no stock of the asthma medication, new stock had been ordered.

“The depot is currently purchasing on a quotation basis until the new contract comes into effect,” Manana said.

New orders of medication were expected to arrive within a week.

Manana said some clinics had not placed orders for medical stock.

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