Eveline de Klerk
Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, says he will investigate the availability of hepatitis A and B medication in the country. This follows a complaint by a Swakopmund private doctor that there has been a shortage of hepatitis A and B medication at the coast.
The doctor brought the issue to the attention of the minister at a consultative meeting between Haufiku, ministry representatives and medical practitioners during the minister’s two-day outreach visit to the region.
Hepatitis A is spread through ingestion of faecal matter and is found in the faeces of an infected person. It can be spread through the handling of food with unwashed hands and drinking contaminated water, etc. While Hepatitis B is transmitted mostly through punctured wounds or contact with infected body fluids such as blood, saliva and semen.
Both diseases can be prevented through vaccination, which is also included in children’s immunisation schedules.
The doctor said they have experienced the shortage of hepatitis drugs for the past five years now. “There is simply nothing in stock and we can’t seem to get answers as to why the medication is not available, as most of the times it is out of stock,” complained the physician, adding that on numerous occasions she has asked for assistance from state facilities with the option to buy from the state.
She also said she has been struggling to get answers from the ministry’s regional office as to why the medication is not available.
“Just last week, I called the ministry of health again to enquire, however, no one answered,” she explained.
Responding to the matter, Haufiku said he is not sure what the situation is but promised he would consult his staff in Windhoek to establish what the real issue is that caused the shortage of the medicine.
He explained that the shortage could also be due to the fact that the government sometimes does not have enough funds to buy all needed medicines at once.
“It could also be a delay from the suppliers, however, we will find out what the challenge is,” said Haufiku.