In the last six months the Eastern Cape Department of Health has destroyed almost 50 tons of medication, most of which is expired goods. Allowing vast amounts of medication to expire and go to ruin is the same as withholding treatment and is paramount to a human rights violation. Stock control policies need to be re-looked to ensure that this does not happen again.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learnt that along with the medication that was damaged in the recent Mthatha medical depot fire, more than 13 tons of recently expired medication was destroyed.

Rumour within the department has it that the fire at the depot in April this year was started to hide stock shortages and/or large volumes of expired medication.

Excluding the medicines destroyed in the depot fire, the majority of the remaining 37 tons of expired medicine that has been destroyed by the Department of Health comes from state hospitals within the province. If even the most simple of stock control measures were exercised then millions of Rand worth of medication could have been redistributed to clinics across the Eastern Cape.

Clinics across the province, especially those in the most rural of areas, are known for being short of much needed medication and often being without medication at all for months at a time.

Proper stock control and subsequent redistribution of medication would mean the medication will be put to good use well before their expiry dates. Any chronic ailment sufferer would agree that their medication is worth more than their weight in gold.

I will be submitting questions for oral reply by MEC for Health in the legislature scheduled for 7 December to ascertain exactly why this travesty was allowed to happen and will demand that the department makes the relevant changes to not allow this to happen again.

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