Another victim of Gauteng’s medicine shortage

Statement by Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC:

An unemployed mother spends R450 a month on medicine for her brain-damaged child because she has been told that it is not available from a state hospital in Gauteng.


Mrs Brenda Mavimbela lives in Daveyton on the East Rand, and cares lovingly for her 6-year-old daughter Nonjabulo who became brain-damaged after treatment at the Far East Rand Hospital in 2010.


Her only income is a monthly disability grant of R1330, from which she pays R275 for Bio-baclofen tablets and R175 for Rivotril drops every month..


Bio-baclofen is a muscle relaxant, but she can only afford one table a day for her daughter instead of the prescribed two tablets.


Rivotril is used for calming and to prevent epileptic fits.


Brenda has been paying for these medicines since May last year after both the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital and the Far East Rand Hospital said they could not supply it.


It’s a tragic story, and there are many others who suffer in silence because of poor medicine supply in Gauteng hospitals.


Last month I highlighted the case of Mrs Shamrock Rademeyer, a 65-year-old pensioner in Edenvale, whose family spent R6000 every month on medicine that should have been available from Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.


After my intervention, she has been able to obtain more medicine from the hospital, which brings her monthly bill down to R4000 a month, and it will hopefully come down further.


Other patients who cannot afford to buy medicines have to go without, with severe effects on their health.


The Gauteng Health Department claims that essential medicine availability has improved from 76% in December 2014 to 91% now, but this still means that nearly one in ten medicines are not available at health facilities.


The situation can be improved by paying all medicine suppliers on time and putting in proper ordering and distribution systems as soon as possible.