Thursday, 11 August, 2022
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Civil society report on medication collections at North West health facilities

Data collected by civil organisation Ritshidze, in the second edition of the North West State of Health report, said there were still problems in the province, despite an improvement in medication stockouts.

Ritshidze, a community-led monitoring system developed by organisations representing people living with HIV, including the Treatment Action Campaign and the National Association of People Living with HIV, had interviewed more than 600 patients about their experiences in the healthcare system at venues like Potchefstroom Clinic, Lehurutshe Clinic and Zeerust Clinic, reports News24.

This year there were 398 reports of different medicines being out of stock across 57 health facilities, down from 895 at 56 facilities last year. About 26% of patients said they or someone they knew had gone home without their medication.

Forty-two patients reported shortages of HIV medication and 55 reported a shortage of contraceptives. About 8% of patients went home empty-handed because of a medication shortage.

The report recommended that from January 2023, the North West Department of Health should implement a provincial strategy tackling shortages of medicines and other equipment and supplies.

It should also deal with the impact of staff shortages and poor management, and infrastructure. “Increasing pharmacy staff in facilities must be a priority as they are often the first to acknowledge a short supply of medication,” the report stated. While there are still medication shortages, waiting times decreased from five hours last year to four hours in 2022.

"However, 91% of patients interviewed think that waiting times are too long, with 64% of them blaming staff shortages for the queues.”

The report noted that the province has some of the cleanest facilities when compared to other provinces. About 77% of users reported that clinics were “very clean” or “clean”.

But facilities still don't have enough space, with 92% of managers saying they needed bigger waiting rooms, more space for filing systems, and private HIV counselling/testing and medical care rooms.

The report added that the province lagged in the supply of ARVs, with just 6% of people living with HIV reporting three-month ARV refills — compared with 25% in the same reporting period last year.

The report also recommends healthcare workers improve their attitudes when dealing with patients, who complained of bullying and ill treatment from both staff and security guards, and being made to feel unwelcome.

“People living with HIV who return to the clinic are often shouted at or sent to the back of the queue. This only discourages them from ever going back.”

Provincial health chief director Masela Mokhutswane-Kaudi said the department was aware of the issues in the report and would work at fixing them.


News24 article – North West State of Health: medication shortage, rude staff and long waiting times (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Fraud case opened against North West Health’s head of department


North West Health intervention: challenges persist four years later


Allegations of ‘vaccine racism’ in North West by white officials




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