Chronic medicine patient parcel no. 5 million over in Gugulethu

Theuns Botha MPP

Western Cape Minister of Health

Nomonde Patience Nongogo (50) is receiving medicine parcel number 5 million in terms of a five year contract awarded to UTi by Western Cape Government Health in 2012. Ms Nongogo has been receiving the medication from Gugulethu CHC for about a year. She initially received medication for high blood pressure and is now receiving medications for arthritis. She was born in Gugulethu in 1964.

The milestone comes as some 215 000 patients are now receiving their chronic medicine from more than 131 public sector health facilities in the Western Cape – up approximately 73% in just 18 months.

The improved service, in which more patients are receiving medicine, in a significantly expanding footprint, involves an average of 1,16 million items being dispensed and delivered each month.

UTi’s Chronic Medicine Dispensary GM, Ludo Tandt, said the number of patients will peak at 300,000 in March 2015. He said the service was meeting or exceeding the terms of the service level agreement.

In July 2012, UTi assumed responsibility for the entire database of 140 000 patients.

Additional dispensing sites – including those along the West Coast and the Winelands – were added on an ongoing basis, and some 190,000 patients were being serviced by end 2012.

In addition, direct deliveries began to residential sites, such as the Zandvliet Care facility, Macassar – a welcome benefit to aged patients who no longer have to go to facilities and wait in queues.

Simultaneously, the concept of “facility-based clubs” was rolled out by the District Health Services to reduce waiting time to patients. The Facility Based Clubs are medicine collection points located separately from the pharmacy but still within the primary health care site.  Minister Botha visited such a site In Drakenstein this week.

There are presently more than 40 000 patients receiving ARTs from the Chronic Dispensing Unit (CDU) service, and there is scope to expand this significantly.

Last year the service was extended to additional clubs where patients were identified who were stable on their therapy, and alternative outreach delivery points were introduced. These collection points have helped de-congest primary health care facilities and reduce the waiting times for patients who no longer queue at the pharmacies to collect their repeat prescriptions.

In 2013, the CDU rolled out the services to 60% of Western Cape Government Health’s rural districts, including the West Coast (from Malmesbury to Vredenburg), the Cape Winelands (from Stellenbosch to Montague) and the Overberg (from Grabouw to Swellendam). The Central Karoo and Eden districts will be added to the service in 2014.

Tandt said the service is expected to peak at 300 000 patients per month by the end of March 2015.

UTi collects prescriptions from sites, dispenses the medicines according to the prescription, packs patient medicine parcels into sealed tamper-evident parcels and distributes these parcels to the pharmacy at facilities. This is in accordance with legislation and good pharmacy practice.

UTi electronically tracks the dispensing of parcels from the site to facilities. The parcels are handed over to the patients by the pharmacy personnel. Patients also receive text message reminders to collect their next patient parcel.

UTi’s helpdesk assists patients and facilities with queries, tracks the progress and reports on resolutions.