Department of Health dispose of more than R1.6 million worth of expired medicine

Jane Sithole, MPL

Spokesperson on Health and Social Development:

The Mpumalanga Health Department has disposed of more than R1.6 million worth of expired medicine while there is a serious shortage of life saving drugs and basic medication at clinics around the province.

This information was revealed by MEC for Health, Gillion Mashego, as he admitted during a recent sitting that in the 2013/14 financial year, the department disposed of more than R1.6 million worth of expired medicine.

Healthcare workers at various clinics in Mpumalanga face many challenges on a daily basis as the provincial health department fails them, while patients who frequent these clinics complain about the shortage of critical medicine, hygienic conditions, some clinics even without running water and /or electricity.

On our over sight visits, the Democratic Alliance learnt that medicine shortages are currently being experienced at Nelspruit Community Health Care Centre, White River clinic, Nelsville clinic and Valencia clinic in Mbombela, Eastdene clinic and Nazareth Clinic in Steve Tshwete, Lydenburg Clinic in Thaba Chweu and various other clinics around Mpumalanga.

This varies from Blood pressure tablets, vaccinations, antibiotics, ARV’s, diabetic and warfarin just to mention a few.

The MEC for Health promised that in the new financial year which started on the 1st of April 2015, a new system would be put in place where drugs are supplied and delivered to all heath care facilities throughout the province more effectively, eliminating stock medicine and wastage.

The MEC also stated that R24 million has been put aside in the new budget to employ more healthcare professionals such as medical and professional doctors. The DA welcomed this announcement as it will alleviate long queues at many health care facilities.

The DA will continue our over sight role of monitoring all clinics around the province, to establish whether the MEC’s new system yields any relief for Heath care facilities. Should the situation persist, the DA will have no choice but to write to the Public Protector to launch an investigation into the critical shortage of life saving drugs and medication at all clinics around Mpumalanga. The department’s inability to manage its affairs and the continuous failure to correctly staff and stock these facilities has caused more grief to the many people who frequent these health care facilities.

It is our duty to hold the Executive to account, especially where tax payer’s money is involved. More than 80 percent of residents in our province depend on the public health system and the DA will leave no stone unturned until these facilities are properly staffed and correctly stocked.