National Panic Over Drug Shortages

Hundreds of people suffering from asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, among other illnesses, are queuing up at the Katutura clinic and hospital waiting in vain to recive their medicines.

They had to go without their potentially lifesaving medicines as result of major supply problems being experienced by the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

According to a source, essential medicines reportedly ran out of stock including insulin, which is used to treat diabetes, steroids to treat inflammatory conditions and certain chemotherapy drugs for cancer patients.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services spokesperson, Ester Paulus, when contacted for comment on Tuesday said she was tired of responding to issues related to the shortage of medicine.

“I have said enough on the issue of medicine, if you want to quote me, quote me from the press release issued this week,” she said.

When New Era visited the Katutura Clinic on Tuesday about 100 patients claimed to have been waiting for their medicines since last Friday.

One doctor who preferred anonymity said he was shocked by the number of people who could not get their medicine due to the shortages.

He said this was a “bomb waiting to explode” since some of the patients had cancer.

“Every day you delay cancer treatment the outcome is worsened and a patient could be one step closer to dying,” the doctor said.

“For some of the cancer patients getting these medicines is a life-or-death situation and you can’t gamble with their lives like that. The department needs to explain the latest shortages.” “How can they gamble with our lives like that?” said Wakonda Karumendu who claimed he had been waiting for his medicine at Katutura Clinic since Tuesday but by Wednesday had not received any of the prescribed medicine.

Similar problems were experienced at Katutura Hospital late on Tuesday when New Era visited the hospital where hundreds of patients said they had been at the hospital since six o’clock in the morning on Tuesday but nothing happened.

“Just imagine I have been sitting here since this morning six o’clock without help, I had nothing to eat since this morning,” charged Thomas Hamupembe one of the patients.

Hamupembe said he only had N$10 which he already spent and did not know whether he would get the prescribed medication.

“Maybe I will sleep outside… eish but it is cold and I am not feeling well,” he said.

Immanuel Kangumine said that last Friday he went home without getting his tablets after he was told they were out of stock at the pharmacy.

“My big worry is the impact this will have on my health. If I have to go without these essential medicines for some time, will that not reverse my health condition,” he said.

When New Era visited the Khomasdal Clinic on Tuesday the pharmacy was closed and all patients were being referred to Katutura Hospital.

Source : New Era