North West medicine crisis - military to intervene?
The health department is considering using the military to help distribute medicine in North West‚ where a protracted strike by the National Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has brought the central pharmacy depot to a standstill.
Hospitals and clinics have only days left of essential supplies‚ placing lives at risk‚ according to civil-society organisations monitoring the crisis.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was interacting with stakeholders to try to resolve the situation and officials were weighing up several practical options for getting medicines to patients‚ said the minister’s spokesman‚ Popo Maja.
"The issue needs to be addressed at a political level. There are pressure points in other provinces‚ but North West is top of the agenda. There is a recognition that urgent intervention is required to ensure lives are not at risk‚" said Maja.
Practical options for providing medicines to patients in the interim included using the military to distribute supplies and providing collection points‚ or setting up private sector collection points‚ he said on Monday.