South Africa

Gauteng hospitals hit by medicine shortage: health department

Gauteng hospitals hit by medicine shortage: health department

Increased demand for Covid-19 treatment has contributed to Gauteng's hospitals and clinics running short on some medicines.

The province's health department admitted to the shortfall on Tuesday, and vowed it had put measures in place to mitigate this.

Spokesperson Kwara Kekana said in instances where certain medicines are in short supply, facilities ensure patients were given alternative medication.

“Where patients cannot be given alternative medication, they are referred back to their treating doctors to recommend an alternative course of treatment,” Kekana said.

“There are reasons for the shortage of medicines in the country. The shortage of certain medicines is not unique to Gauteng.”

She said the problem is the result of a shortage of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and rising prices, inconsistent supply from the manufacturers of finished products, and increased demand for medicines due to Covid-19 as most countries are stockpiling and manufacturers are not coping with the high demand.

“Most manufacturers are not bidding for tenders. There are measures being implemented to mitigate the shortage, which include buying out against contracted suppliers, asking suppliers that are not on contract to manufacture some of the products and penalising suppliers for late deliveries.”

Kekana said patients waiting at home may access services if their condition deteriorates and they become acute and must attend any of the provincial emergency services. There they will be assessed for the need for specialised psychiatric admission according to the Mental Health Care Act.