South Africa is currently the midst of an extraordinary time, with both logistics and access to healthcare services being severely impacted in addition to personal safety and security. As a patient advocacy organization, we implore all our members to please act responsibly in regard to accessing healthcare services and to purchasing of medicines and medical supplies.
Access to services
RDSA is aware that certain clinics, out-patient, screening and auxiliary services are currently unavailable. Whilst this is not an ideal situation, we need to consider our personalneeds in context with the current situation. RDSA suggests the following:
• Seek the assistance of your GP first, wherever possible. If necessary, your GP (or specialist) can arrange yourcare to be referred to an appropriate, alternate centre for further treatment as an interim measure.
• Request an appointment with your GP when you first begin experiencing symptoms – rather than waiting until the situation becomes serious. This will provide the necessary time to ensure services are available and accessible.
• Be patient. All medical services are currently resource-constrained and under severe pressure.
• Request your script renewals timeously. When calling for script renewals, updates etc, ensure you have the necessary information readily available to ensure an efficient ordering process.
• If you do not fully understand instructions or information about your treatment or condition, ask your GP/specialist questions to make sure you know the facts and details about your plan of care.
• Call ahead to see if an in-person visit is necessary or if it may be dealt with virtually.
• Wear your mask at all times when entering a healthcare facility and sanitize your hands when entering and leaving.
During this time, it is likely that some medications may not be available. Patients are urged to purchase responsibly during this time and not to panic-buy as this has a detrimental effect on the healthcare system and patients in need.
• Always keep copies of your script on your phone or in hard-copy. Due to service delivery disruptions, you may need to obtain medication from a new service provider and this process may be easier if you have a copy of your script in-hand.
• Ensure you call your healthcare provider a month prior to your script expiring to request a renewal. This ensures enough time to arrange a follow up consult if needed or to prepare or source a renewal. It also ensures that undue pressure is not placed on the service provider.
• Order repeat scripts a week in advance. Do not wait until the last day to request fulfilment. This ensures there is enough time to prepare and order stock if necessary.
• Where possible, request delivery of your medication through an approved service provider to limit in-store contact. This helps to keep both us and our healthcare workers, safer!
• Do not panic buy. Yes, times are uncertain, and the situation is far from ideal. However, we have a responsibility to our fellow citizens and patients to ensure that everyone has access to the medication they require. Purchasing in bulk has a negative impact on the supply chain and has negative consequences for patients.
• Sharing prescription medication is illegal and you can be criminally prosecuted for doing so. We understand we are living in unprecedented times and people areresorting to extreme measures for survival. Please be sensible and be aware of the implications of your actions.
What if your medication is unavailable?
RDSA has created a stock-out reporting tool to assist patients in escalating a stock-out. Please follow this step-by-step approach:
1. Ensure you apply for your script renewal a week prior to the medication being required.
2. If your local pharmacy has no stock, please call at least two other pharmacies in your area first to enquire about availability.
3. Enquire with your GP/specialist about alternative options/generics /bio-similars
4. If there is no pharmacy in the area with access to your medication and no alternatives available, pleasecomplete the form at the following link: www.rarediseases.co.za/stock-outs
5. RDSA will then escalate the shortage with the manufacturer in question and provide feedback.
Should you require any further information in this regard, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Kelly du Plessis
CEO - Rare Diseases SA