Med students fight for right to give drugs

MEMBERS of a Wits off-campus clinic are waiting for a final decision to allow them  to distribute pharmaceutical drugs.

Trinity Health Services, a student-run clinic based in Braamfontein, was closed last year after committee members opted to “get all their Ts crossed” with legislation affecting distribution of pharmaceutical drugs.

Zeenat Bhikhoo, 2011 chairman of Trinity Health Services, said: “The pharmacy was inspected by the Department of Health and there were a few concerns that we are addressing. These will be fixed by the end of the month and then we will wait for a decision. Wits legal also had a few queries that we have addressed and we now wait to hear their decision as well.”

Bhikoo said the clinic was closed for two reasons. Firstly to register its pharmacy for the legal distribution of medication and secondly to be recognised as a Wits-associated outreach programme.

“We felt that this was important as the students are liable for any legal problems that may arise from the clinic and we wanted to be covered by insurance. We also wanted to be affiliated with Wits as we felt that this will allow us to have better publicity and attract more funders as well as allow more students access to the clinic.”

Trinity aims to offer a full service clinic that can also help educate volunteer medical students.

“At one stage we were basically a fully operational primary health care clinic.  Though not screening for all diseases, we could screen for HIV and even picked up signs of a haematological malignancy [cancer of the blood] once.” said Elize Cloete, a former volunteer at the clinic.

Bhikoo said: “It is a project that does so much good for the community and we did not want it to be shut down because of a few legal technicalities so we decided to close it down and get all our T’s crossed, so to speak, and open it again as a fully functional legal operation.

Bhikoo said when she joined there was just one consultation room with a divider in it. Since then they had created five consultation rooms, one store room and a pharmacy room.

 

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