Report: Emergency Intervention at Mthatha Depot: The hidden cost of inaction
In early December, the Mthatha medical depot – serving more than 300 medical facilities in the North-eastern region of the Eastern Cape for medical supply needs – faced severe supply and delivery disruptions of life-saving HIV and tuberculosis [TB] treatment for over 100,000 patients. Stripped of 70% of its workforce due to suspensions in a labour dispute, the faltering management of the depot collapsed and critically compounded existing stock shortages at the depot, hospitals and clinics in the area. Orders had not been processed, supplies not received and, ultimately, drugs not dispensed to patients most in need. As a result, the danger of treatment interruption for HIV and TB patients was a perilous reality.
After Section27 and the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) received pleas for help from distressed health care workers on the ground and with the consent of the responsible health authorities, MSF and TAC started a coordinated response. MSF hired a temporary workforce and cleared the backlog of drug orders by coordinating stock reception, order processing and deliveries to affected facilities. TAC set up and maintained a drug stock-out hotline and monitoring network to help prioritise essential drug delivery to clinics. The Department of Health complemented the MSF/TAC intervention by sending three experienced pharmacists to assist at the Mthatha depot. Read the full report here