Patients in the North West are being turned away empty-handed due to shortages of medicine as a result of an ongoing strike‚ according to Doctors Without Borders.

The Stop Stock Outs Project (SSP) warned that several medicines and vaccines were already out of stock‚ and that additional emergency measures must be taken to avoid a complete shortage in the province.

Patients with chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS risk health deterioration because of the strike by the National‚ Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

"Immunisation of children below nine months of age has been cancelled in some clinics‚ due to insufficient supply. Patient reports of stock outs have led to SSP being able to confirm that at least five clinics have closed their gates. One subdistrict pharmacy provided a nine-page list of items at minimum or nonexistent stock levels‚ including ARVs‚" said Glenda Muzenda‚ SSP project manager.

"The situation is not under control‚ and further interim solutions are needed as patients are going without chronic medication. The national Department of Health and provincial department of health must ensure that orders being placed by districts are filled as rapidly as possible.

"Thousands of lives are depending on an immediate solution to this crisis‚ and orders that have been placed for medicines need to be filled within the next 24 hours. We must move rapidly to ensure access to essential medicines is not compromised."

According to Seipati Moloi‚ spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders‚ no one is allowed to gain entry to the pharmaceutical depot or access the stock ordering system.

TimesLIVE contacted the Department of Health and Nehawu and could not immediately get a response.