Pharmaceuticals must be managed properly to prevent maternal and child mortality

By Harold McGluwa MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

The DA is concerned that poor management of pharmaceuticals is contributing to the high incidence of maternal mortality in the Northern Cape.

The DA has today written to Health MEC, Mac Jack, (see attached) requesting a detailed report from the department on attributing factors in the recent spate of maternal deaths in the province.

This comes after the Northern Cape Health Department reported in its First Quarter Performance Report for 2015/2016 that thirteen maternal deaths were reported during April – June 2015.

While the department did not provide a breakdown of the causes of the maternal deaths, they did concede that a ferrous sulphate out of stock, for a period of approximately six months, resulted in a number of post-partum haemorrhages.

Given that postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) is a leading cause of maternal mortality, especially in the developing world, we can surmise that this particular out of stock played a significant role in the rate of maternal mortality.

While the department has indicated that the provincial depot intends putting an alternative supplier or product in place in response to this serious challenge, we are of the view that this is simply not enough.

Young mothers, whose lives could possibly have been spared if emergency obstetric care protocols had been observed, have tragically died.

The magnitude of this situation requires an in-depth investigation. The cause of the ferrous-sulphate out of stocks must be pinpointed and action must be taken against any officials found to be guilty of mismanagement of pharmaceuticals.

Interventions to prevent PPH in developing countries are pivotal in the global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality ratio by three-quarters by 2015. The Northern Cape will have to drastically pull up its socks if it wishes to succeed in this regard.

The DA will give the MEC an opportunity to respond on this matter but if no reply is forthcoming, we will not hesitate to report this matter to the Human Rights Commission for further investigation.