Minister: SA medicine shortage not a result of incompetent govt

The Health Minister has blamed pharmaceutical companies that supply the medicine.

Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said drug shortages in South Africa are not the result of an uncaring or incompetent government but rather the pharmaceutical companies that supply medicines.

Motsoaledi said the world wide shortage in certain medicine is the result of profit-run pharmaceutical companies.

This follows a series of media reports last week which claimed patients in KwaZulu-Natal were being turned away from clinics because of widespread shortages.

Motsoaledi said the shortage of certain drugs in the country has led to fierce attacks on government despite it being unable to control the distribution of the drugs.

"It is very easy to fiercely attack government for a non-caring attitude, incompetence, cadre deployment and corruption, as claimed in one statement by the Treatment Action Campaign."

He said his department has been quick to investigate claims of a shortage of antiretroviral (ARVs), but says the country has an adequate supply.

The minister said claims of victimisation of patients who come forward with complaints are also untrue.

While Motsoaledi said there is a shortage of certain medicines, this is due to the factors beyond government control.

At the same time, Doctors Without Borders has said the main reason for drug shortages in South Africa is due to management and logistical challenges between the pharmaceutical companies and the clinics.

The organisation's Bella Hwang said the shortage is also poor management at a facility level.

"When we investigate the causes of these, it's about 20 percent of it that is related to manufacturing challenges. But about 80 percent are caused by management and logistical challenges between the depot and the clinics."