Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba has promised harsh action against officials who fail to order personal protective equipment (PPE) and medication from the provincial pharmaceutical depot.
She issued the warning during her visit to a depot in Seshego, Polokwane, on Monday, after an outcry over shortages of PPE for emergency medical services personnel and medication for chronic illnesses at health facilities.
After a walkabout at the depot, Ramathuba said she was satisfied there were enough items required for healthcare available. She said there was enough to last up to three months.
Her visit also comes after the death of Limpopo-based veteran journalist Karen Venter.
Venter, 50, collapsed at her home last week Tuesday. When her partner sent a distress call to Polokwane Hospital for an ambulance it’s claimed she was told an ambulance crew could not be despatched because of a shortage of PPEs. Venter later died.
There have been similar reports in the province, as well as claims of patients returning home from clinics and hospitals without their chronic medication because of shortages.
At the depot, Ramathuba said: “The stock (of PPEs and medication) that is here can take us up to three months.
“Now we will have to go and investigate why EMS don’t have PPE. What does that mean? Does it mean that they didn’t order, and if they didn’t order, they must tell me why I should keep them in the perusal system of the department.
“The stock is not here for decoration. We have also said to our (hospital) CEOs, clinical managers and pharmacy managers that before you start your work every day, check the availability of PPE and other needs.”
The concern about PPEs for health workers and medication at health facilities comes at a time when the number of Covid-19 infections continue to rise in the province.
As of Monday morning, the province recorded 144 new infections, bringing the total to 1 717.
Concern has been raised around districts such as Mopani and Vhembe, which, at some stage, recorded zero infections, but are fast becoming hotspots in the province.
“We are talking about the worst situation that is about to hit us,” Ramathuba warned.
Earlier, the provincial coronavirus command council indicated it has made available 6 000 beds at public and private health facilities for Covid-19 patients.