Don’t blame us for UBH drug shortages: Pharmacy


THE management of a 24-hour private pharmacy at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) has denied allegations that they are to blame for drug shortages at the health institution after nurses called for its closure.


UBH nurses temporarily downed tools on Tuesday morning, protesting at the lack of drugs, needles, among other medical basics.
The protesting nurses also forced the temporary closure of the private pharmacy, UBH 24Hour, accusing hospital authorities of colluding with the former not to buy drugs to force patients to turn to the pharmacy.

Instead, the owners of UBH 24Hour said calls for its closure were unwarranted, as the pharmacy was assisting patients, who fail to access drugs at the hospital, a claim supported by the hospital chief executive officer, Nonhlanhla Ndlovu.

In an interview yesterday, a UBH24Hour director, Trevor Mapadzure denied the charges of colluding with the hospital authorities.

“That is not true, it’s a shallow argument. Instead, community members and patients have expressed endless gratitude for the convenience brought in by that pharmacy since they now save money by not travelling to and from the central business district to look for drugs,” he said.

“Also, this concept of having a private (pharmarcy) is not unique to UBH. There is no nexus between that pharmacy and hospital shortages. The question is before this pharmacy was opened, where there no shortages?”

According to minutes of a meeting held on Tuesday between hospital management and nurses, the pharmacy was said to be of “great help” to patients.

“The CEO [Ndlovu] informed the meeting that she had hoped that the situation concerning procurement of drugs was going to change, citing the introduction of the Health Levy Fund, the money, which would be given to NatPharm to procure medicines for institution.

“CEO reiterated that UBH pharmacy is there for the convenience of patients and relatives of patients. She pointed out that patients should not be directed to buy medicines at UBH 24hour pharmacy, but should be advised to buy drugs from a pharmacy of their own choice where products are not available at UBH,” the minutes read.

The country’s health sector suffers a myriad of challenges among them shortages of drugs after years of underfunding from Treasury.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week allocated $408 million to the health sector in his 2018 National Budget presentation despite Health minister David Parirenyatwa saying he required over $1 billion.