Lives at risk as EC Health runs out of chronic meds

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

Clinics in Nelson Mandela Bay, Sarah Baartman and Joe Gqabi districts are turning patients with chronic conditions away because they do not have medication for them. These patients are now at huge risk of becoming gravely ill.

Patients with chronic illnesses such as Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and Diabetes must take medication daily to manage their conditions successfully. This medication is a lifeline that allows them to live lives of value. The Department of Health is failing them.

I have written to the MEC for Health, Nomakhosazana Meth, to request an explanation for this shocking situation that has resulted in patients being forced to default on treatments that are crucial to their well-being, and in some cases, their survival.

It is alleged that the medicine depot in Gqeberha is in turmoil, because of incompetent managers and disgruntled employees. It is further alleged that the roof of the depot, which collapsed in bad weather two years ago, has never been properly repaired and poses a risk to the employees.

The most damning allegation, however, is that of non-payment to suppliers of chronic medications, hence the shortages in stock.

During the recent budget speeches, we were assured that the Department would settle debts to suppliers to fast-track service delivery. Why has this not happened?

If the Eastern Cape Department of Health is to survive this financial year intact, they will need to drastically improve their service delivery model. That should include firing incompetent cadres who earn millions but cannot even ensure a constant supply of critical medication.

It should also include paying suppliers within thirty days, as per Treasury regulations. It should never be acceptable that people living with chronic illnesses should pay for departmental incompetence with their lives.