Clinic loses thousands in uncollected medication

Amina Rajap, 46, from Kewtown gets her blood pressure checked by student nurse Sharne Human.

At a health indaba held by the Doctor Abdurahman Clinic last week, it was revealed that the Department of Health has lost R34 000 due to patients who do not collect their medication and those who return medication to the clinic.

The clinic based in Athlone, hosted the indaba, attended by over 500 people, at the Athlone civic centre last Wednesday August 24.

The aim of the indaba was to highlight to patients the importance of collecting medication on time as well as the volumes of medication being brought back to the clinic every month.

Pharmacist at the clinic, Thoko Teta, said one of the things that patients must remember is that the medication cannot be recycled, so once they bring it back to the clinic it must be send back to the supplier.

For the month of July, 1 200 patients out of 7 000 patients did not collect their medication. Ms Teta said that each medication parcel costs R28 to package, which means the health department has lost R34 000 already for the month of July.

She said when patients to do not collect their medication, they themselves delay the process because when they do eventually come they have to wait on their folders first.

“This creates the long queues that patients are always complaining about,” said Ms Teta.

Patients are given up to five days to collect their medication. She said that chronically ill patients must collect their medication on time because they are supposed to be taking it regularly and should be at the end of their previous prescription by the time of the next appointment.

“If they collect it, it is a sign that they are taking it,” she said. “People are under the impression that medication can be recycled but it can’t. When one of the patients die their family members bring back black bags full of their medication,” she said.

A questionnaire was handed out at the indaba last week, asking patients various questions which Ms Teta hoped would reveal why they are not taking their medication.

“We need to work together as a team so that things can go better. If we have a positive attitude towards a challenge then we can overcome it,” she said.

“Collecting their medication is one thing, but we need to know that they are actually consuming it,” she added.

Lecia Fredericks, health promotion officer at the clinic, said there are two reasons why patients do not take their medication. “One is that there is a myth that ‘Dutch medicines’ work better than the meds from the clinic, and two is that community members communicate with each other wrongly. Some say for example that Metforman gives diarrhoea and that makes the patients not take their meds,” said Ms Fredericks.

She said that senior citizens don’t take their water tablet because they are afraid of using the toilets in public spaces.

“If they have side effects they must talk to their doctor about it and not just stop taking it completely,” she said.

At the indaba patients got a chance to check their blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and do HIV/Aids screening. They were also taught different chair exercises.

Dorene Dyers, 67, from Bridgetown, had her blood pressure tested. Every month she receives medication for her cholesterol and her arthritis. She said that it is important for patients to take their medication regularly.

“This is an important day for people’s health. It is to show them that they must take their medication regularly. If you are sick it is important to get to a doctor and get medication and fetch it regularly,” said Ms Dyers.

Shafiek Rajap, chairperson of the health committee at the clinic, said while some patients don’t take their medication because of the side effects, not taking it makes them feel worse.

“Speak to your doctors about the side effects of your medication, perhaps they can recommend something else, said Mr Rajap. “The staff are very friendly and always striving to make things better,” he added.