KZN’s medicine shortage far from over

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

KZN Health MEC, Sibongisiseni Dhlomo’s assurances – during an executive statement some two months ago – that the province’s medicine crisis is being dealt with are nothing more than a cover-up for continued incompetence within his department.

According to professional sources known to the DA, the province remains short of several drugs including painkillers and medications used to treat eye and skin ailments.  Antibiotics and life saving medication for diabetes also remain out of stock.

Ampicillin, Penicillin, Humalog [insulin], Panado Equivalent, Diclofenac injection, Ibuprofen [Brufen Equivalent], ointments, creams and essential eye medication form part of an even longer list of medicines that are not available.

In the same executive statement the MEC also contradicted his own earlier statement in which he claimed there had never been a shortage of ARV’s in the province and that HIV/ AIDS medicine for children was only out of stock for two weeks.

Instead facilities are still using substitutes for certain HIV/ AIDS medicines including Abacavir for children.

In failing to truthfully acknowledge the extent of the medicine crisis in KZN, the MEC has misled the Members of the KZN Legislature and the people of our province who continue to suffer poor quality healthcare thanks to an MEC who seems not to be interested in their plight.

At every step of the way there have been more excuses and less action, even after the DA sounded the alarm when shortages first appeared.

The DA will today write to MEC Dhlomo with the request that he;

–          Table another executive statement which clarifies how bad the situation really is

–          Ensures buy-out from the private sector as well as, if necessary, buy-out from neighbouring provinces

–          Considers manufacturers other than those contracted by his department

–          Urgently follows up on Section 21 applications [Act 101 of 1965] that authorise unregistered medicines to be imported in order to fill the gaps and to ensure the safety of medicines procured.

The current medicine crisis should serve as a warning to the ANC-led government that it cannot consider running its own medicine manufacturing facility if it cannot manage a medicine shortage.

Excellent healthcare is the right of every person in South Africa.  The situation in KZN today is symptomatic of a government that does not care enough to listen to the needs of its people.