UTH hit by drug shortage while nurse’s strike enters day 5

UTH Student midwives

AS THE nurses’ strike continues at Zambia’s largest hospital, University Teaching Hospital (UTH), and enters its fifth day, the institution is now hit by an artificial shortage of drugs for patients.
And Minister of Health Joseph Kasonde is expected to issue a comprehensive statement on the strike tomorrow.
Drugs are available but pharmacies where all drugs are stored have been closed by striking pharmacists.
Student nurses attending to patients at UTH, patients and their relatives revealed this to the Daily Mail in separate interviews in Lusaka yesterday.
The students, who complained of being overwhelmed with work, said drugs which pharmacists left before they went on strike ran out on Saturday.
One of the students, who did not want to be identified, said pharmacies at UTH were closed on Thursday, the day nurses and midwives started their strike.
“The work is too much for us. To make matters worse, there are no drugs to administer to our patients. The stocks which were left with us have run out,” he said.
He said students have now resorted to giving prescriptions to patients to buy drugs on their own.
Another student identified as John said after giving prescriptions to some patients yesterday, few minutes later, they returned saying there were no drugs in the pharmacy.
He advised them to go and buy the drugs elsewhere.
And another student said he was facing a hard time convincing patients that the institution has run out of drugs because they know that the hospital has enough medicines.
“They can’t believe what we are telling them but this is the reality on the ground. Something needs to be done immediately,” she said.
When contacted for a comment, UTH public relations manager Mwenya Mulenga said he has been advised not to issue any comment on the strike by nurses and midwives.
“Really, our hands are tied on the issue of nurses, pharmacists and midwives. There was a meeting this morning,” he said.