The status of vaccine availability and associated factors in Tshwane government clinics
Background. Vaccines have greatly contributed to the control of vaccine-preventable diseases and to human development. Efforts by many countries to introduce new vaccines are a significant move towards achieving the sustainable development goal for health. However, effective vaccine supply chains that ensure an uninterrupted supply of vaccines are pivotal to attaining universal access to life-saving vaccines and sustainable development. The introduction of new vaccines puts a strain on supply chains; South Africa (SA) is no exception, as there are indications of vaccine stock-outs in clinics.
Objective. To establish the status of vaccine availability and associated factors in government health facilities of Tshwane Health District in Gauteng Province, SA.
Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted in a sample of randomly selected government clinics in the Tshwane health district of Gauteng Province. Data were collected using a structured measurement instrument in participating clinics. Data were analysed using Excelbased software (Microsoft, USA).
Results. A total of 31 clinics participated. In the preceding 12 months, clinics had experienced vaccine stock-outs, especially of the three newer vaccines: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, rotavirus and Pentaxim. These were also out of stock for a long duration; for over 2 weeks in a majority of clinics. The causes of vaccine stock-outs were: poor management of stock, district depot out of stock, unreliable deliveries, lack of pharmacy assistants and limited fridge capacity. Further burdening the situation is the ineffective emergency-ordering system.
Conclusion. Significant shortages of vaccines, which are essential drugs, occur in Tshwane government clinics. Vaccine supply chain issues and vaccine shortages should be treated as a priority at all levels of the healthcare system; therefore, a similar study should be conducted at national level. It is recommended that the vaccine supply chain should be restructured and overhauled with the use of advances in technology and could be linked with current initiatives such as MomConnect.
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