Cash-strapped NC Health struggling to settle medical depot invoices

───   OLEBOGENG MOTSE 09:44 Tue, 14 Sep 2021

Cash-strapped NC Health struggling to settle medical depot invoices | News Article
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The Northern Cape Health Department’s cash flow is so constrained presently, that it is yet to make headway in settling the over R96,5 million in accrued invoices at its medical depot.

This is revealed in Health Minister Joe Phaahla’s written response to the Democratic Alliance’s Haseena Ismail on parliament’s monitoring group's site. It is revealed that the department is really struggling to settle invoices from service providers within the mandatory 30-day period. At present, payments are prioritised in terms of the source of funding, contractual obligations, and non-negotiable items.

The Northern Cape’s Central South African counterparts – North West and Free State - are on the other hand making some meaningful strides with respect to money owed to their respective medical depots. The North West Health Department is eyeing the end of September to settle all the accrued invoices for its provincial medical depot in Mahikeng, following years of financial instability. At this stage, this provincial department has managed to pay 81% of the over R265 million it was said to owe service providers at the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

READ MORE: NW Health eyes end of month to settle medical depot accruals

The Free State, on the other hand, is reported to have settled the remaining 18% of the over R500 million that was owed to the provincial medical depot for medication in early September. The health department attributes this success in the Free State to the prioritisation of paying claims by the medical depot to ensure that it remains afloat and pays suppliers in time. Yet the Ritshidze Healthcare Project’s Mary Nyathi, tells OFM News they have uncovered that there are still stock-outs reported at primary healthcare facilities, despite these payments being made at provincial level.

READ MORE: FS Health settles medical depot accruals, yet stock-outs at clinics persist

Nyathi says the greatest issue they found in their report covering April to June 2021, is the stock-out of fixed-dose combination antiretroviral (ARV) medication at primary healthcare facilities due to a whole host of issues. “You find that the facility doesn’t have the fixed-dose combination, but the district depot has it. Then they tell you there is no vehicle to transport the medicine from the depot to the clinic, citing different reasons: the car has not been maintained, there is no driver etc. Meanwhile, people in the facilities are not accessing the medication and it’s sitting in the depot until expiry,” explains Nyathi.

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