Hundreds of thousands of children in Limpopo are at risk as the province’s healthcare facilities continue to experience a severe shortage of vaccines to inoculate children against conditions other than Covid-19.
“The shortage was caused by the fact that suppliers have been struggling to access vaccines in the market due to Covid-19 inconveniences,” Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba said.
Apologising profusely in her latest statement, Ramathuba assured that a supply of children’s vaccines would be secured by the end of the week.
She said a catch-up programme would be followed to vaccinate children.
“The department will embark on a catch-up programme to address the backlogs in vaccination of children who have missed their dose due to shortage in facilities.
“We would like to genuinely apologise for this inconvenience. We want to reassure our communities that all children who missed their dosages will receive them during our catch-up programme,” the MEC said.
The shortage comes at a time when the province is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases.
There have been a number of reports that patients, who were suspected to have Covid-19, died at hospitals before healthcare workers could attend to them.
Last week, while touring health facilities along with Ramathuba, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize acknowledged that hospitals were under severe pressure during the second wave of Covid-19 infections, compared to what they experienced during the first wave.
Ramathuba still has to announce how Covid-19 vaccines will be rolled out in the province when they become available.
In the past, the province experienced shortages of other medication at health facilities.
At a stage, nurses advised relatives of admitted patients to procure medication from private pharmacies.
In May last year, provincial health facilities ran out of drugs to treat arthritis and the department blamed suppliers, Health-E News reported.
In October 2018, well before the start of the Covid-19 outbreak in South Africa, Eyewitness News reported that Ramathuba described the shortage of medicine at health facilities as a disaster.