Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Correspondent
HOSPITALS nationwide are facing a critical shortage of drugs owing to procurement delays by the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm).
Mpilo Central Hospital’s acting chief executive officer, Leonard Mabandi, said the institution was left with about 50 percent of the hospital’s drug requirements, a situation he said complicates and weakens health service delivery.
He said the situation was critical, but could not immediately state how long the drugs that they have would last.
“The situation is bad, truly bad. We’re now left with about 50 percent of our drugs supply and this is not good for a hospital,” he said.
Mabandi said the shortage of drugs was compromising health delivery as the health institution could not adequately treat its patients.
“As hospitals, we need to diagnose and treat our patients. Treatment requires that we’ve medicine but we don’t have it. We’re now forced to give them prescriptions so that they can buy medicines from pharmacies which some of the patients can’t afford,” said Mabandi.
United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) chief executive officer Nonhlanhla Ndlovu said they were also faced by an acute shortage of drugs.
She said the problem was compounded by patients’ failure to settle their bills.
Ndlovu said they were now asking patients to buy medication from pharmacies.
Ingutsheni Central Hospital’s public relations officer Vongai Chimbindi said they were also facing challenges with the supply of drugs, but asked for questions to be put in writing. She had not responded to them by last night.
The National Pharmaceutical Company told said on Tuesday that drug supplies should arrive within two months after Treasury released $800,000.
NatPharm said it was owed $24 million by the government dating back to 2009 and should the debt be settled, the situation would improve.
NatPharm managing director Flora Sikefu said: “The tendering process is taking place and we’re not waiting for deliveries from some of the suppliers.”
She said the process was taking long because it was done through international tendering which takes time, although much cheaper.
She said the National Aids Council had filled in the drugs gap for HIV patients by procuring critical medicines to avert a catastrophe.