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DRUGS SHORTAGE: RFM HAS ALTERNATIVE

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MANZINI – In light of the obtaining drugs shortage in local health facilities, the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial (RFM) Hospital has resorted to an alternative way of bringing the essential medication closer to its patients, however, at an added fee.

The strategy has been to order the stock of medication that government cannot supply the hospital with (but is in demand), directly from the pharmaceutical wholesalers. Although this move has been met with mixed feelings by some members of the public, RFM Chief Executive Officer Benjamin Simelane said they ordered the essential drugs ‘for the mere sake of the patients’.“When there is a shortage, the alternative way is for the people to go and buy from private pharmacies,” the CEO said.

Pharmacies

“A majority of the people cannot afford to buy from the private pharmacies because the prices there are higher than those charged by the hospitals.”
Simelane said this when asked by this reporter to comment on the feelings raised by some patients to the effect that they were now being over-charged at the RFM Hospital. The patients, who were interviewed at the hospital on Tuesday, said they wondered why they were made to pay for medication when they had paid the consultation fee on arrival. They argued that before, a consultation fee of E20 was a once-off payment at RFM.
They said once they had paid the consultation fee, there previously was then no need to bother about paying for medication at the hospital.
The consultation fee at RFM is E20 and E30 after 3pm. Muzi Dlamini, a patient who was found in the queue on Tuesday, said he was made to pay for a syringe, way after he had already consulted with the doctor and he (doctor) had prescribed the medication that was needed for his ailment.
“The doctor prescribed my medication. When I went to the dispensary to fetch it, I was told to go and pay at the revenue office first, then I will come and fetch my syringe with which I will be vaccinated,” he said.

Dispensary

Another patient said in her case, there was a certain dose of tablets that she was told she had to pay for first, before she could be given at the dispensary. The RFM CEO said the medication that they gave to their patients at a fee was at a lower price compared to the prices charged by private pharmacies. Asked for comment, Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Vusi Magagula, said he was yet to consult with the authorities of the RFM Hospital regarding the grievances raised by some of their patients. When this newspaper had explained to the director that the hospital did that to make easily accessible the necessary drugs that were out of stock, for the sake of their patients, he said that was logical.
“Things have changed. Government is facing a drug shortage. What I know is that the consultation fee is for consulting with the doctor. The medication comes with an extra cost,” said Dr Magagula.

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