Vaccines and other medication were not spared from the rampant looting and torching of buildings in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal last week.
Acting health minister Mamoloko Kubayi on Monday said that during the looting, medication and vaccines were either stolen or destroyed.
The stolen vaccines were stored in pharmacies at malls that were ravaged in parts of KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are aware that the affected vaccines were looted from private pharmacies. Some were also torched and destroyed. We are verifying how many vaccines were affected.
“We are also quantifying the numbers. We don’t see huge quantities because we don’t allow many vaccines be stored in pharmacies. None of our vaccination sites were attacked. We continue to work with the police to escort vaccines. What was difficult in KwaZulu-Natal was that the target was moving from one point to the other.
“If we can have three days of quietness, we can quantify and verify the damage done to the health sector. We are worried about chronic medication such as ARVs and others,” said Kubayi.
Kubayi said the delays in achieving their targeted vaccination numbers would catch up with the department.
“In KwaZulu-Natal, the testing rate is very low. We want to pick up those who are positive and swiftly assist them. In Gauteng, we temporarily stopped some sites. However, others continued operating.
“The Gauteng public health sector was not highly affected by the looting except for the private health sector. We are aware that other medications were also stolen from Gauteng pharmacies. Utilising unprescribed medicine can compromise your health. I appeal to people not to use medicine that has been contaminated. Those who looted medicine must not sell it. They must rather dispose of or hand it to nearby health facilities.
“Don’t keep stolen medicine. In KwaZulu-Natal, we stopped our vaccination programme. Ethekweni and Mgungundlovu region were the most affected vaccination sites. We are happy that vaccination has resumed in many parts of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Kubayi.