Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

Managers’ Perceptions of the Availability of Medicines in the Free State District Health Services

Sibusiso Memory Zuma, Lebitsi Maud Modiba


The purpose of this study was to explore and to describe perceptions of pharmaceutical service managers and district managers regarding factors influencing the availability of medicines within the district health services of the Free State province. A qualitative, descriptive, exploratory and contextual research design was followed. Data collection was conducted through two focus group discussions consisting of pharmaceutical managers and district health services managers, respectively. The collected data were organised and analysed by means of an inductive model where the data that were relevant to the topic had to be grouped into appropriate and meaningful categories. This was enhanced by the use of XSight, a software package developed for the analysis of qualitative data. The research results demonstrate that there is inadequate availability of medicine in district health services due to various factors, including a shortage of pharmacists and pharmacist assistants in the primary health setting, lack of delegation, red tape in the procurement of medicines, and lack of an electronic medicine procurement and monitoring system. The study made recommendations on how to improve medicine availability within the district health services.


district health services; district managers; medical depot; medicine; pharmaceutical services manager; strategic health programmes

Full Text:



Baloyi, L. F. 2009. "Problems in Providing Primary Healthcare Services: Limpopo Province." Master's dissertation, Unisa, Pretoria, South Africa.

Barbie, E. 2010. The practice of Social Research. 12th ed. USA: Belmont Wadsworth.

Bradshaw, D., N. Nannan, R. Laubsher, P. Groenewald, J. Joubert, B. Nojilana, R. Norman, D. Pieterse, and M. Schneider. 2000. "South African National Burden of Disease Study. Estimates of Provincial Mortality. Free State Province." (accessed 13 June 2012).

Cresswell, J. W. 2013. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design. 3rd ed. Los Angeles: SAGE.

De Vos, A. S., H. Strydom, C. D. Fouché, and C. S. L. Delport. 2005. Research at Grass Roots: For the Social Sciences and Human Service Professions. 3rd ed. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

Elamin, I. E., M. I. M. Ibrahim, and M. I. M. Yousif. 2010. "Availability of Essential Medicines in Sudan." Sudanese Journal of Public Health 5 (1): 32–37.

Free State Department of Health. 2012a. Availability of ARV and TB medicines in the Free State. Bloemfontein, Free State. Republic of South Africa.

Free State Department of Health. 2012b. Annual Report 2011/2012. Bloemfontein, Free State: Republic of South Africa.

Free State Department of Health. 2010. Strategic Plan 2010–2014. Bloemfontein, Free State: Republic of South Africa.

Free State Department of Health. 2009. April Medicine Availability Report. Bloemfontein, Free State: Republic of South Africa.

Free State Provincial Government 2012: Annual Report for 2012. Bloemfontein, Free State: Republic of South Africa.

Kangwana, B. B., J. Njogu, B. Wasunna, S. V. Kedenge, D. N. Memusi, C. A. Goodman, D. Zurovac, and R. W. Snow. 2009. "Short Report: Malaria Drug Shortages in Kenya: A Major Failure to Provide Access to Effective Treatment." American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 80 (5): 737–738.

Lufesi, N. N., A. Andrew, and I. Aursnes, I. 2007. "Deficient Supplies of Drugs for Life Threatening Diseases in an African Community." BMC Health Services Research 7 (86): 1–7.

Marshall, C., and G. B. Rossman. 2011. Designing Qualitative Research. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE.

Matse, P. M. 2006. "Factors Associated with Drug Shortages in PHC Facilities in the Mopani District of the Limpopo Province." Master's dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

National Department of Health (Republic) South Africa. 2011a. Annual Report 2010/2011. Pretoria: NDOH.

National Department of Health (Republic) South Africa. 2011b. National Core Standards for Health Establishments in South Africa. Pretoria: NDOH.

National Department of Health (Republic) South Africa. 2009a. Strategic Plan 2009–2014 Pretoria: Government Printers.

National Department of Health (Republic) South Africa. 2009b. Health Programme of Action. Pretoria: Government Printer.

Oakland, J. S. 2011. Tqm Text with Cases. 3rd ed. Burlington: Elsevier.

Ohuabunnwa, M. S. I. 2010. The Challenges of Making Quality Essential Drugs and Supply Available for PHC Services in Nigeria. (accessed 13 June 2012).

Oxford South African Concise Dictionary. 2007. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary. 7th ed. 2005. Oxford: Oxford University.

Pure Health Consulting. 2012. Pharmaceutical Management of TB in South Africa; Rapid Assessment Conducted in 7 Provinces. Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program. Arlington, VA: Management Sciences for Health.

QSRI. 2008. "XSight Data Analysis Software." http//www.qsrinternational. Com/products xsight. aspx (accessed 3 January 2012).

Strengthening Pharmaceutical Services. 2008: Report on the State of Availability and Delivery of Pharmaceuticals in the Northern Cape Province. Pretoria: Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems/Management Sciences for Health.

Streubert, H. J., and D. R. Carpenter. 2011. Qualitative Research in Nursing – Advancing the Humanistic Imperative. 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

The Survey Workshop. 2010. Patient Satisfaction Survey in Provincial Health Care Facilities. Bloemfontein: The Survey Workshop.

Welman, J. C., F. Kruger, and B. Mitchell. 2005. Research Methodology. 3rd ed. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

Wimmer, R. D., and J. R. Dominick. 2006. Mass Media Research an Introduction. 8th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.



  • There are currently no refbacks.