'We need our pills to stay alive'

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

A shortage of prescribed drugs over the past two months has affected many people in Mpumalanga, particularly the elderly, who rely on remote clinics to help them stay alive.

Concerned villagers from Lefiso village, in the KwaMhlanga region, called Sowetan this week to complain they could no longer take their prescribed medication - because they had been told by nurses that their drugs were "out of stock".

Mary Maepa, 78, said she had not been able to collect her pills at the Lefiso health centre since December.

"I am waiting for my next payout date so that I can use the little money that I will get to pay a private doctor," she said.

"I have already spoken to the only private doctor in the area and he has agreed to treat me and my fellow patients on credit," she said.

The doctor confirmed yesterday that since early this month his surgery had been inundated with villagers desperately wanting assistance because of the shortage.

The provincial health department has failed to respond to questions Sowetan sent them with regard to the villagers' complaints.

A nurse at the Lefiso health centre said they had informed their superiors about the situation without success.

"Even neighbouring clinics appear to have been affected and they even tried to get some medicines from us," said a nurse who asked to remain anonymous.

Health department spokesman Mpho Gabashane declined to comment when Sowetan approached him.