Drug pilfering in hospitals on rise-Chituwo

Former Health Minister Dr Brian Chituwo has attributed the problems of drugs mismanagement to the confusion caused by the artificial separation of the administration of the health sector.

Chituwo said the government should put in place effective monitoring mechanisms to thwart the increasing reports of drug pilfering in public health institutions.

He  said it was not a secret that this problem existed even before, but that the increased reports of drugs mishandling was a sign of the absence of effective machinery to monitor the distribution exercise.

“It is well known that there have been logistical problems at the Medical Stores, but what more with the operation of policy and administration into two ministries in charge of the health sector,” he said.

He said the separation from the Ministry of Health the primary health services was not a well thought through move as it affects movements of drugs from the administrator at Medical Stores to the various points in the districts under  a separate ministry.

Chituwo explained that there would be a lot of complications with communications between government ministries and that it would be even more complicated at lower level departments like the district pharmacies.

He said the situation would unlock occasions for mismanagement by unscrupulous people in the health sector.

Chituwo also questioned the security at the provincial hurbs created to provide available stocks closer to the hospitals and health centres compared to having everything stocked at Medical Stores.

“We are told it’s to create stocks closer to the hospitals around the country, but do they have the necessary monitoring mechanisms in place to ensure the drugs are dispatched and delivered for the intended destinations?

They need to establish monitoring systems for the provinces and the districts pharmacies to avoid further abuse of the system,” he said.

And Ministry of Health director Chituta Mbewe says government has intensified survey surrounding the increased pilfering and mismanagement of drugs at public institutions in the country.

Mbewe said in Lusaka yesterday that the government had acknowledged the increasing reports of stealing of drugs in health centres owing to lapses in the surveillance and monitoring systems in place.

Last week, a health worker and another person from a private clinic were picked up by the Zambia Police after allegedly being linked to the pilfering of public drugs.

The two were picked up after it was discovered that drugs meant for government clinics were being sold in drug stores and private clinics in Southern Province.

The ministry has announced that all medicines procured by government would be clearly marked ‘not for sale’ among other features, and called on members of the public to be alert and report packaging that would be tampered with.