Clinic runs out of BP, diabetes meds

Clinic runs out of BP, diabetes meds

BUTHA-BUTHE -A clinic in Butha-Buthe district has been out of hypertension and sugar diabetes medicines for the past five months.
Linakeng Health Centre, in the rural parts of Butha-Buthe, serves at least 20 000 people from 46 villages and 30 of them are hard to reach.
Hypertension and sugar diabetes are chronic diseases only managed with daily doses of medication. Without them patients can suffer serious complications, some of which are fatal.
The crisis was revealed during a visit to the clinic by Parliament’s Social Cluster Committee last week.
Supported by United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), the committee was on a tour of six health facilities in Butha-Buthe and Mokhotlong districts.
At Linakeng Health Centre the MPs came face to face with the horror hypertensive and diabetic patients have been through for the past six months.
“We place orders on time and we have no idea what happens in the supply chain. We need to know where the problem lies,” said Teboho Lebula, the nurse in charge at the clinic, as the MPs quizzed her for answers.

Lebula told the MPs and journalists that they have not received the medication despite submitting several requests through the logistics officer at the District Health Management Team (DHMT).
The logistics officer receives orders from clinics and sends them to the Ministry of Health which them submits them to the National Drug Service Organisation (NDSO), a parastatal with a monopoly to supply medicines to the government.
What started as a routine inquiry soon turned into a blame-game as officials denied culpability.
Lebula told the MPs that she was not sure why they are not getting the medicines.
“We have ordered and reordered a couple of times without help,” she told the seemingly shocked MPs.
Fako Moshoeshoe, chairperson of the committee, then turned to the Health Ministry’s District Management Officer for Butha Buthe, Dr Lebohang Sao, for an explanation.
Dr Sao said she was not aware of the problem but quickly pointed a finger at the clinic’s management and the logistics officer who she accused of sleeping on the job.
Dr Sao said the logistics officer is supposed to make sure that the requests for medication are quickly submitted to the ministry.
She said it is the clinic’s responsibility to manage its stock.

Dr Sao said part of the problem is that the government keeps relying on the NDSO as the sole supplier of medicines. Such a monopoly, she said, makes it difficult for the government to get medicines from other companies.
The trouble, she added, is that clinics are beholden to the NDSO even when it’s not able to deliver on time. Moshoeshoe said the committee too is worried that the NDSO remains a monopoly.
He said they wanted the government to end the monopoly but the NDSO officials resisted despite that the company keeps failing to deliver.
“We need to end this monopoly,” Moshoeshoe said.

The nurse in charge said they had referred diabetic and hypertensive patients to Tsime Clinic, the nearest to health centre, but it too had quickly run out of the medications.
Soon patients were buying from private pharmacies that also reportedly failed to meet the demand.
Dr ‘Makhoase Ranyali, the Ministry of Health’s Head of Family Health, suggested that Lebula reports to the Public Health Nurse at the DHMT if the logistics officer is not doing his work.
Dr Ranyali said it was surprising that Linakeng had gone for five months without the medication because there is a system that allows clinics to borrow medicines from each other.
NDSO General Manager, Matebele Sefali, however dismissed the allegations that they were to blame for the crisis at Linakeng.
“We do our deliveries on time. There is always a problem somewhere in the supply chain but it is not us,” Sefali said in an interview with thepost.
Sefali said part of the problem is the red-tape at the Ministry of Health.
Sometimes there are delays in the supply chain, he added.

He also said most clinics were not submitting their request a week in advance as stipulated in the supply contract between the Ministry and the NDSO.
He said sometimes clinics send their requests on a Friday when their stock runs out on Monday.
“If requisitions are done in time, we deliver on time. There is no pressure whatsoever on our side because we procure enough drugs for all health facilities.”
Sefali said the Ministry of Health’s director of supply chain told him about the situation at Linakeng Health Centre.
Moroke Motuba, the District Logistics Officer, said the problem lies with the clinic because it does not have a system to manage the stock. Motuba said the clinic last ordered hypertension pills in December.

He said there is a “serious need for accountability by the clinic”
Because there are no clear records the clinic’s management cannot keep track of what is urgently required, he said.
The result, he added, is that the clinic submits orders late and sometimes orders supplements instead of essential medicines.
The pills were delivered at the time of print.

Rose Moremoholo

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