The provincial health department blames the supplier.
The people of Mpumalanga have been asked not to “worry” while officials are attending to the issue of the ARV shortages.
Provincial health department spokesman Dumisani Malamule confirmed on Tuesday this week that indeed Mpumalanga is “experiencing challenges” but were busy attending to the matter.
“It’s true that in Mpumalanga we have a shortage of ARVs but it is level 2 and level 3 that we are experiencing challenges on. The level 1 which are the normal ARVs that people who are HIV positive take we’ve got enough stock.
“But where we are experiencing challenges is level 2 and level 3 which are given to patients who are not responding well on the normal level 1 ARVs,” Malamule said over the phone.
He said they blame the service provider who will “deliver these medications late or deliver stock that is not enough”.
“But because we have patients that we are serving we have therefore decided that we will order out of the contract we have with the service provider and fetch the stock ourselves and make sure we have enough in our facilities and that is the intervention that we have done.
“The head of department has already signed the request to procure out of the contract because we cannot continue like that with the service provider while our patients are suffering,” Malamule said.
The Stop Stockouts Project organisation this week raised the alarm and reported that since the past two months there has been a nationwide crisis of ARV shortages at healthcare facilities.
It said it has been speaking to the department of health about the issuebut there is no plan to address the shortages – only a way to identify and report the shortages.
“If there is indeed no budget as indicated by national department of health, we need to get to the bottom of why this is the case and what will be done about it,” the organisation’s acting manager Lauren Jankelowitz said.
“A robust supply chain and uninterrupted access to medication is crucial in ending HIV. Stockouts of ARVs interrupt treatment, increasing the risk of opportunistic infections, treatment failure, ARV drug resistance and ultimately death,” she said.
She added that we need to call on all parties – government suppliers and healthcare workers – to work together to resolve this disaster and are considering asking countries with surplus supply to help fill the gap temporarily, while we wait for South Africa’s suppliers.
National spokesman Popo Maja said in the event of a total stockout an alternative will be provided.
“Stock may be sourced from another facility or patient referred to another clinic,” Maja said.
Patients should call 0809116472 if they experience difficulty.
Issues range from patients being forced to take cold showers to sleeping with dirty linen and shortages of staff.
The EFF in the Nkangala region says they were shocked at the conditions at the Middelburg district hospital when they made an earlier visit, causing them to march this week and submit a memorandum.
Scores of party members, supporters and community members brought the CBD to a standstill in order to voice out their concern for a failing public healthcare institution.
Regional leader Poppy Mailola said they first made a visit to the hospital on 24 August 2018 and were very shocked at the appalling conditions that patients and staff are forced to endure.
“It’s very shocking what our foot solders found there,” Mailola said.
“There is a shortage of doctors and nurses, beds and blankets. There is poor supply or total shortage of medicine. Patients are forced to take a cold shower because the geysers are not working and linen is dirty due to dysfunctional laundry machines, the list is endless.
“What was supposed to be the place of healing has now turned into something else, I’d say a place of death,” she said.
The marchers walked from the Mhluzi shopping mall to Joubert Park in town, where they were addressed by their leaders before shooting straight to deliver a memorandum. They say the hospital is dilapidated.
“What is painful is that this hospital is being used by the majority of poor black people who do not have medical aid to go to private clinics and hospitals. So we want things to change. People should understand that their solution lies on their hands,” Mailola said.
“They have the power to remove the corrupt ANC government from power. Our hope lies in a new government that respects the constitutional rights of all our people to life,” she said when speaking to the 013NEWS reporter on the sidelines of their march.
Their memorandum demands things should change at the hospital.
It reads: “We have noted that the state of public healthcare is in a crisis. Poor people go to hospitals not to get life, care and recovery but to be humiliated, condemned and driven to early death.
“Our public health institutions have no basic facilities, buildings are collapsing, machines are broken and there are no skilled healthcare practitioners,” it said.
“The elderly in our society no longer want to go to hospital because of the abuse they receive from the healthcare practitioners,” the memorandum reads.
“The HIV/AIDS patients are openly called in queues to receive medication, humiliating them and thus adding to the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS. It is common knowledge that there is a shortage of doctors and nurses in all hospitals in the province of Mpumalanga”.
EFF wants the hospital management to respond to all their demands in atleast 14 days.
Hospital boss Maake Modise, who received the memorandum, said some of the issues highlighted are true and some are not.
“On the issue of the shortage of beds, we do have enough beds,” Modise said.
“As a district hospital level 1, we do referrals most of the times so you may find that the shortage of beds is at the referral hospital,” he said.
“And also we are not allowed to appoint specialist doctors. Appointment of specialists is done by level 2 and 3 hospitals.
“We do have channels of complaints in the form of suggestion boxes inside the hospital, if people are not using those channels to lodge complaints, we might not be aware of them,” the CEO said.
The outbreak is with children younger than five, especially little ones.
The Mpumalanga health department says they have observed an increase in children with Pertussis.
Initially, symptoms of Pertussis are usually similar to those of a common cold – characterised by a runny nose, fever and mild cough.
But after days a fit of coughing follows, a high-pitched whoop sound or gasp may occur as the child breathes in.
The illness is known as ‘whooping cough’, among children younger than five years, particularly those younger than a year old.
13 cases have been reported across Mpumalanga and the public is advised to be on high alert when anyone or a child is experiencing or developing cold-like symptoms, including coughing and a runny nose.
They should immediately consult the nearest health facility to get medical help.
Caused by a germ known as ‘Bordella Pertussis’, the illness can spread from one child to another and is vaccine-preventable.
The Centre for Communicable Diseases said it will be spread when a person with it sneezes, coughs or breathes because the germs live in the nose, mouth and throat of the infected person, making it easy for them to spread to others.
“A person can get Pertussis when droplets of mucous or saliva from the sick person get into the mouth, nose or eyes,” the centre’s Mandla Zwane said.
He added that adolescents and adults who have been vaccinated previously may also get it but with minimal symptoms – like a sore throat or a persistent cough.
Anyone who has been diagnosed with Pertussis by a doctor or health care facility should avoid mixing with other people, especially infants and pregnant women, to prevent the further spread of the disease, Zwane said.
“The provincial government has expressed a serious concern as the transmission of this infection seems to be moving from one area to another,” Mtsweni’s spokesman Zibonele Mncwango said.
“To date, over 1 300 cases of diarrhoea have been reported in health facilities especially within Mbombela municipality,” Mncwango said.
Water tests are currently being conducted by authorities from the eHlanzeni district municipality and City of Mbombela to determine the source of the outbreak, Mncwango said.
“Although the provincial government is not too sure where the germ seems to be coming from, citizens are meanwhile being encouraged to exercise caution by continuously wash[ing] hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet, wash hands as well as after changing baby nappies and after throwing away rubbish. They are encouraged to prepare safe food by constantly washing or peeling fruit and vegetables, cook food thoroughly especially meat and should store food in a clean and cool place,” he said.
Residents are also encouraged to pour a teaspoon of bleach into 25-litres water, mix well and wait for at least 30 minutes or to boil the water for at least three minutes before consuming.
Health officials were on the field encouraging people to look for symptoms and go to their nearest clinic.
Since the outbreak nobody has died except two people, one in Tekwane South and another in KaNyamazane who authorities suspect were killed by drinking dirty water. A bacteria called Shigella was found in their bodies by the Institute of Communicable Diseases – suggesting they were killed by contaminated water.
Feeling nausea, vomiting as well as feeling stomach cramps are just some of the signs of diarrhoea.
“The provincial government is conversely satisfied that there are no deaths related to the current diarrhoea outbreak,” Mncwango said.
“It therefore wishes to call for calm and encourages citizens to adhere to prevention while we are speedily dealing with the outbreak. We also have noted the opportunistic ill-informed rumourmongers who are intending to cause excessive public panic,” he said.