Nurses’ Perceptions About Stock-outs of Essential Medicines at Primary Health Care Facilities in Vhembe District, South Africa

Ogbodu Olubumni M1, Maputle Maria S2, *, Mabunda Jabu1
1 Department of Public Health, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, South Africa
2 Department of Advanced Nursing, University of Venda, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, 0950, South Africa

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Creative Commons License
© 2019 Olubumni M et al .

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Advanced Nursing, University of Venda, South Africa, Private Bag X5050, Thohoyandou, 0950, South Africa; Tel: +2715 9628125; E-mail:



The development of generic medicines that are cost-effective and affordable aims to facilitate improved availability of essential medicines to meet the health care needs of the majority of the population. However, these essential generic medicines are not regularly available at the community health centres and clinics.


This study aimed to determine the perceptions of professional nurses regarding the status of stock-outs of generic medicines at primary health care health facilities in a selected province of South Africa.

Materials and Methods:

The study was conducted in five primary health care facilities; three clinics and two health centres in Thulamela B municipality of Vhembe District, Limpopo Province.

A qualitative, exploratory, descriptive and contextual research design was used to obtain the perceptions of the participants. Thirteen professional nurses were purposively selected. Data were collected through face-to-face in-depth interviews until data saturation was reached. Data were analysed using Tesch’s open coding method.


Key findings showed that essential medicines were not always available, with the health centres reporting fewer stock-outs than clinics. The perceived major contributors to stock-outs were institutional inefficiency and practices by both health service providers and patients.

Conclusion and Recommendations:

The study concluded that primary health care facilities in rural communities still grapple with poor access to essential medicines due to poor availability. Therefore, the provision of sufficient funding for procurement, and training of inventory management practices were recommended. In addition, community public awareness campaigns to discourage patients’ self-medication and multiple consultations should be put in place.

Keywords: Essential medicines, Stock-outs, Perceptions, Primary health care facilities,, Funding for procurement, Inventory management practices.