By CHILA NAMAIKO -
MACHA Mission Hospital in Choma has been hit by a shortage of essential drugs among them Combivir, an Anti-RetroViral tablet (ARVs) for children and adults living with HIV/AIDS.
As a result of the shortage of the life-saving drugs, patients are being switched to another substitute drug called abacavir while waiting for the recommended ones to be in stock. Abacavir is an antiretroviral used to treat HIV/AIDS.
Other drugs which have run out of include diclofenac, a pain killer and carbamazepine, an anticonvulsant.
This came to light when Southern Province Minister Nathaniel Mubukwanu toured the hospital on Friday to familiarise himself with the operations of the health institution.
Hospital executive director Abraham Mhango attributed the shortage of the essential drugs to the partial delays in delivery of the medicines from Medical Stores hub in Choma.
“We have adequate medicines in stock, but the challenge is shortage of essential drugs which we ordered but have not yet been delivered from Medical Stores hub in Choma,” he said.
Mr Mhango also complained of deplorable state of roads in which patients were finding difficulties to access the hospital as in some cases, the roads were impassable after flooding.
He said some bridges on roads leading to the hospital have either been damaged or washed away and he appealed to the Rural Roads Unit (RRU) to help rehabilitate the infrastructure.
He said the Brethren-In-Christ run hospital has a catchment area of over 150,000 people and was providing quality health services to three districts namely Choma, Namwala and Kalomo.
Mr Mhango hailed Government for recent release of about K2.1 million for infrastructure projects such as on-going construction of a Kitchen Hall, Cold Room and demonstration laboratory at Macha School of Nursing.
Mr Mubukwanu assured the hospital management that he would ensure sufficient delivery of medicine to all hospitals in the province for continued provision of quality health services.
The minister also toured the Malaria Research Institute located adjacent to the hospital, and he was impressed with concerted researches being done to combat malaria.
He later proceeded to inspect the Medical Stores Hub in Choma following the reports of late delivery of drugs to hospitals.
Medical Stores Limited Choma hub manager Happy Sianga told the minister that artificial shortage of some drugs was due to the two weeks stock taking of medicines at Medical Stores limited in Lusaka.
Mr Sianga attributed the late delivery of the medicines in some rural health centres in far-flung districts such as Mulobezi, Shangombo, Gwembe and Sinazongwe due to poor state of road network in which the trucks usually get stuck.