The nation is up in arms over drug shortages that have hit the country and already some patients are reported to have lost their lives due to this problem.
Some of the patients told Sunday Standard that they were told by nurses to buy the unavailable drugs for themselves at pharmacies.
They alleged that, at times, they fail to get their medication because the drugs are quite expensive at the chemists and this, they say, puts their lives at risk.
“We have not been told what the major cause of the drug shortage is,” said one patient.
They appealed to the minister to hold kgatla meetings throughout the country and explain the problem and how it will be resolved.
Lesego Motsumi, the Minister of Health, says she is not aware of any patient who might have died due to the shortage of drugs that has hit the ministry.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, she said that “it is true that there are shortages of drugs throughout the country, at referral hospitals, district and primary hospitals”.
Motsumi said that most of the drugs that are in short supply include those for high blood pressure and diabetes and others.
She said the problems started way back in 2004 before she was the Minister of Health, but conceded that “we have a serious problem with our suppliers, both local and international suppliers”.
“You will be shocked if I tell you that some drugs that were ordered last June have not yet arrived from the suppliers and this disturbs us a lot.”
Motsumi added that “even some of our local suppliers fail us dismally because they do not deliver and this causes problems”.
“Due to this problem, the Ministry has given both referral hospitals, Princess Marina and Ngwangabwe, P5 million to buy drugs that are not available in their dispensary while district and primary hospitals have been given P50, 000 to buy any drug that is not in their stock,” she said.
She said every “thebe” that has been used will be fully accounted for, if not, then heads will roll.
Motsumi said patients will no longer be told by the hospital that they should go and buy their own medication using their own money because they are not to blame.
“Patients should report any person at the health facility who tells or sends away patients saying there are no drugs, instructing them to buy drugs for themselves.”
She, however, said that the P17 million that was allegedly defrauded at the Central Medical Stores have absolutely nothing to do with the shortage of drugs and promised the nation that the ministry is busy trying to find ways that will do away with the shortage of drugs.
She appealed to the nation to hang on until the matter is resolved.