64 Essential medicines short at Gauteng hospitals

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

A total of 64 essential medicines are unavailable or in short supply at Gauteng public hospitals, causing severe problems for patients who need them.


This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.


According to Mahlangu, 86% of Vital medicines and 76% of Essential medicines are available.


Medicine shortages vary at different hospitals, depending on the level of care that is given.


Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is the worst affected, with 51 drugs out of stock, followed by Leratong Hospital (50 items) and Kalafong Hospital which is short of 49 medicines.


The shortages at other major hospitals are as follows:

  • Helen Joseph Hospital –                 46
  • Steve Biko Academic –                  45
  • Edenvale Hospital –                       39
  • Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg –   37
  • South Rand Hospital –                   28


Out of stock medicines include:

  • Paracetomol tablets 500mg
  • Atenolol tablets
  • Amoxycillin acid suspension
  • Pethidine hydrochloride injection
  • Rantidine hydrochloride injection
  • Ibuprufen suspension 100mg
  • Calcium carbonate tablets
  • Zinc sulphate syrup
  • Lactulose syrup
  • Omeprazole capsules


(Full list available on request)


I am aware of cases where patients are given a script and told to buy from a private pharmacy, but many cannot afford to do this.


Mahlangu says that if stocks are low, patients get a one month supply instead of the usual 3 month supply, and that institutions assist each other where medicines are in short supply.


She blames the non-availability of medicines on national tenders and the failure of suppliers to build up the necessary stock levels to meet the province’s needs.


It is scandalous that nearly one in four essential medicines are not available in Gauteng public hospitals and clinics.


This appalling situation has dragged on for far too long and requires effective measures to ensure that medicines are always available.