Villagers default on medication

Villagers default on medication

QACHA’S NEK – ’MAMOALOSI Taemane has stopped what was once a routine five-hour journey trudging through rough and rocky terrain to collect her medication for high blood pressure.
And it is not because there is a road now to Ha-Sekake Clinic from her village. The 80-year-old is simply too old to endure the odious trips to the health facility and has resigned herself to fate.
Long distances to the medical facility and financial constraints have forced Taemane and several other elderly people in Ha-Moleleki and surrounding villages to default on their medication for hypertension and other conditions.
Taemane does not recall when she last walked to Ha-Sekake Clinic to collect her medication.
“It is a long time ago,” she tells thepost. Sitting on a small rock, she describes the trips to the clinic as “too tiresome”.

Occasionally sniffing tobacco snuff from a small lid of a plastic container, Taemane says she began going to the clinic “some years ago” after health workers told her that her blood pressure was “very high and I was advised to go to the nearest clinic”.
The nearest clinic was at Ha-Sekake, which is quite far from her home. For years she endured the distance, unfailingly going to the clinic to collect her medication monthly.
She does not recall how old she was when she was diagnosed with high blood pressure. But she knows too well that it is a trip she is not willing to undertake by foot again anytime soon.
The footpath to Ha-Sekake meanders through rocky and in some places bushy mountains and across several deep gorges.

As old age caught up with her, Taemane could longer take it so she decided to default on her live-saving medication. This was despite warnings from clinicians against unilaterally making changes to the blood pressure medication.
Health professionals say it is critical for patients to consult with their doctor before deciding to stop blood pressure medication.
Abruptly stopping any medication for blood pressure could be dangerous and puts patients at the risk of a heart attack, stroke and other life-threatening conditions, health experts say.
Taemane says she may consider returning to the clinic after receiving her M750 monthly pension when she will also do her shopping.

In the nearby village of Ha-Ramotšeoa, ’Maretsepile Poposana, says she was diagnosed with high blood pressure at the age of 45.
Since then, the 66-year-old says she had been religiously taking treatment but was forced to stop after she moved to Ha-Ramotšeoa, an area she says is too far from the clinic.
“I had to move to my current location and the distance to the clinic is exhausting,” says Poposana.
“I have to walk for about five hours before reaching Ha-Sekake.”
She adds: “I used to ask my friend who stayed nearer to the clinic to allow me to sleep for a night so that I could make it to the clinic earlier. Unfortunately she died.”
Poposana says she has since asked one of her neighbors to lend her some money to travel to the clinic by bus.
“I will only go if she doesn’t disappoint me,” says Poposana.

Others say they are old but can still walk to the clinic. Yet, their journeys have been fruitless.
Unlike Taemane and Poposana, 70-year-old Tlali Mphanya says he is still fit enough to walk the distance but he did not get any pills the three times he went to the clinic in April.
“I was informed that they are finished and that left me disappointed,” says Mphanya.
“I walked in the rains for nothing,” he says, with a note of disappointment.
Mphanya adds that “the shortage of clinics left me miserable.”
Tebellong LECSA Hospital’s doctor, Mohlauli Namane, says defaulting on one’s high blood pressure medication can increase the risk of heart disease, headache, stroke or even lead to death.

Namane says high or low blood pressure medication differs depending on the level of one’s blood pressure.
He says mostly it is considered normal when it is at 120/80 and once it reaches systolic of 150 “we suspect danger hence one has to look at the preparation of the food they consume. They should reduce intake of salt and sugar among others.”
He says the hospital has a schedule to try and reach people in remote areas “half way” by periodically setting up mobile centres closer to patients.
However, he says, he is not sure whether officials that operate such centres distribute pills as he is not part of the team.

He urged patients to take care of themselves “as high blood pressure is not a death sentence.”
thepost visited Qacha’s Nek last week to observe the African Vaccination Week commemorated by the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) in association with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Tebellong Hospital.
The celebration began with an advocacy meeting with community leaders, health professionals, including village health workers.
CHAL’s Deputy Executive Director, Paseka Ramashamole, says they cater for marginalised people in hard-to-reach areas because of Lesotho’s topography.
“We chose those areas (hard to reach areas around Ha-Sekake) so as to observe their condition as far as their lives are concerned and offer our help health-wise,” he says.
He added: “We need to have a strategy on how we are going to deal with this issue of hypertension defaulters. Something needs to be done.”

The Qacha’s Nek MP, Pontso Sekatle, said the need to provide health services closer to the elderly must be taken seriously.
She promised to speak to Health Minister Nkaku Kabi to see what can be done to get health services closer to the people.
“The old age pay points should be closer to them and during pay-days heath workers should take the opportunity to go there to offer services to them,” Sekatle said.
“It is a sad reality that there are no roads and these poor elderly people suffer a lot,” she said.

Sekatle said nurses from Tebellong used to go to areas that are hard-to-reach in the past and “through collective efforts with other partners we can make sure that the health services are brought closer to the people at least once a month”.
She said she is going to the constituency next week and she will take the opportunity to talk about this issue with the people.
Health Minister Nkaku Kabi could not be reached for comment.

’Mapule Motsopa


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