North West running out of medication - expired drugs pile up at depot

The North West provincial Hospital.
The North West provincial Hospital.
Image: Tiro Ramatlhatse

North West hospitals and clinics are fast running out of medication because most supplies have either expired or are about to expire.

Staff members at the provincial medical depot in Mahikeng said expired medicines were piling up in a room at the depot.

A staff member who asked not to be named said they were expected to accept medication due to expire in six months as a minimum requirement.

"But here we can accept medicines that will expire in a month's time. We take orders from our superiors, so we do as we are told," she said.

Another staff member said the problem was that medication that came from the depot were only transported to hospitals across the province.

"Clinics collect their medications from hospitals, so it's impossible for all short-dated medications to be distributed in such a short time," he said.

Patient Kedibone Leteane was turned away from Stad Clinic because her medication was not available. "This is my third week now, I travel to different clinics and still I do not get help. I have defaulted on my treatment," she said.

stock is collected randomly and not according to the first-expired first-collected

Another patient from Unit 9 Clinic said he was told that there was no hypertension medication at the clinic. "They have referred me to hospital, maybe there I will find my medication," he said.

North West health department spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said the national office instructed the department to accept short-dated medication.

He said by law they were required to have a designated area for expired medication.

"The reason why stock dating back to 2014/2015 is at the designated area for expired stock is that when the disposal company comes for collection, stock is collected randomly and not according to the first-expired first-collected [basis]," he said.

He said MEC Madoda Sambatha has requested a report indicating the challenges of expired medication.

"An investigation on why it has taken so long for expired medication to be disposed of will be conducted," he said.

"If this is due to poor performance by service providers, they will be held accountable, and if it is due to poor management, management will equally be held accountable."

Lekgethwane said the department had since taken a decision to deliver medication directly to hospitals while the medical depot will deliver directly to clinics.

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