Zimbabwe has been hit by a massive shortage of basic clinical drugs at major public health institutions, a situation medical practitioners describe as dire as it puts the lives of millions of people who cannot afford private health institutions at risk.
Medical practitioners have accused the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe of failing to meet the demands for basic medication for a long time.
A medical doctor at Harare Central Hospital who preferred anonymity told the Zimbabwe Independent this week drugs that are usually out of stock or in short supply at public hospitals include clexane injection (which prevents and treats blood clots), morphine injection and tablets, warfarin (an anticoagulant used to prevent new blood clots from forming and helps stop clots from worsening), and benzathine penicillin, an antibiotic useful for the treatment of bacterial infections.
Other drugs in short supply entail antibiotics like benzyl penicillin, ceftriaxone and rocephin; clorpheniramine which treats sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and itchy nose; amphotericin B, an anti-fungal; atropine which helps keep the heart rate stable after a heart attack or during surgery; gentamicin which treats eye infections and kanamycin used to treat a variety of infections. The medical practitioner said: “Nifedipine and atenolol (used to treat high blood pressure and chest pains), omeprazole (treatment for heart burns and stomach ulcers), hydrocortisone cream, miconazole cream, clotrimazole, pessaries (a medical device inserted into the vagina either to provide structural support or as a method of delivering) and salbutamol inhalers (for asthmatic patients) are at times out of supply or very little is available to meet the high demand from patients.
“The situation is quite pathetic. At times betadine, glycerine and ichthammol ointment can be out of stock and patients have no choice but to buy their own. There are no crepe bandages at the hospital for almost a month now and patients are required to buy.”
Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association Fortune Nyamande told this paper on Wednesday that doctors were carrying out their work with no basic resources, compromising the quality of their work. “There is generally a serious shortage of basic drugs in most public hospitals,” Nyamande said: “A basic antibiotic like rocephin, which is widely used, is out of stock in most government hospitals. In addition even some basic intravenous fluids are out of stock. “Even basic pain killers, you can’t find them in these hospitals. Most of the doctors have to write prescriptions to buy medication from pharmacies.