Gauteng health department commits to cutting medication shortages

The Gauteng department of health has committed to eliminating medication shortages. Picture: Neil McCartney

If certain medications are in short supply, the department said facilities must ensure patients are offered alternative medication. 

The Gauteng health department on Tuesday announced measures have been put in place to ensure medication shortages across the province are resolved. 

This is according to a statement released by the department. 

If “certain medications” are in short supply, the department said facilities must ensure patients are offered alternative medication. 

If this is not possible, the patient will be referred back to their doctor for alternative treatment. 

“There are various reasons for the shortage of medicines in the country, the current shortage of certain medicines is not unique to Gauteng,” it said. 

According to the department, medication shortages can be attributed to a number of reasons. 

The active pharmaceutical ingredient may be in short supply, there could be a sudden price increase in active pharmaceutical ingredients, manufacturers of finished products could be inconsistent in their supply and the demand for certain medications could have increased due to Covid-19, with many consumers stockpiling medicine, or items not being on contract if manufacturers are not bidding for tenders. 

But the department has committed to implementing measures to prevent this as much as possible. 

This will be done either by buying out contracted suppliers,  asking suppliers not on contract to manufacture some products, penalising suppliers for late deliveries and engaging with suppliers to resolve issues. 

The statement also addressed the Tara psychiatric hospital waiting list. All patients are put on waiting lists before being admitted, the department explained, in order to determine “the appropriateness and availability of the programmes and the risk assessment of the mental health care user”.

However, waitlisted patients may access Tara services if their condition deteriorates and become acute. 

If this is the case, patents will attend provincial emergency services able to take care of them and be assessed for the need for specialised psychiatric admission in accordance with the Mental Health Care Act. 

Those in the biochemical category wait up to 31 days on Tara’s waiting list, psychotherapy patients wait for 81 days, adolescents for 196 days and those with eating disorders could find themselves on the waiting list for up to 214 days. 

The average waiting list at Tara psychiatric hospital. Photo: Twitter/@GautengHealth

(Compiled by Nica Richards)

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