Patients suffering as doctors run out of painkillers in rural KZN

By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:

THE DA has been advised by doctors in KZN’s Illembe district that they are fast running out of essential painkillers, including morphine and pethidine, despite having made an urgent appeal to KZN’s health department for supplies to be delivered.

According to our sources, the shortages at district hospitals have forced doctors to give medication to some patients only, leaving others to suffer in agony. Paracetamol – a very basic painkiller – is also in short supply.  This particular shortage is ongoing since last year.

The news comes on the same day as a media report in which it is claimed that South Africa is also running out of Penicillin.

The DA regards this situation as completely unacceptable.

It is particularly concerning given the national health Minister’s ongoing denials that there are certain drug shortages when it is clear from those at the coal face that the very opposite is true.

The DA has previously voiced our concerns on this issue to members of KZN’s health committee and has now called for a full report to be tabled at the next meeting scheduled for 5 June.

In particular, we expect acting KZN HOD, Dr MLB Simelane – to account for her inaction.  This after being advised that she was responsible at the time for clinical support services, including pharmaceuticals and had been tasked with stockpiling certain medicines and buy outs.

Obviously this did not take place and we want answers.

A critical part of government’s role in serving the people is the provision of quality healthcare. The current offer from the ANC-led provincial government is failing in this mandate.

Ongoing drug shortages are ultimately the result of a severe lack of leadership and all responsibility for death, disability and suffering lies squarely at the door of KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo and his department.

The DA expects the MEC to intervene without any further delay.  He must step up and take control or leave if he is not prepared to dismiss incompetent staff whose lack of accountability is causing ongoing suffering.