K13.7m ARVs expired


ANTI-Retroviral and other drugs worth K13,750,821 procured by the Ministry of Health have expired and a board of survey has since been constituted to dispose of the drugs, permanent secretary Peter Mwaba told the Parliamentary Accounts Committee yesterday. The committee also interrogated the health permanent secretary over undelivered medical equipment worth K22,701,785 despite the supplier being overpaid by K23,122,641 as reported by the Auditor General.       Dr Mwaba blamed Medical Stores Limited for accepting drugs worth so much money when the supplier knew about the short shelf life. But Dr Mwaba, who is the controlling officer in the Ministry of Health, disclosed that Zambia was supplied with Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) laboratory commodities that had a short shelf lifespan through a K7,289,648 (US$1,041,378.34) contract awarded to Scientific Group Limited. Appearing before the committee, Dr Mwaba said it was regrettable that MSL accepted the drugs with a short shelf lifespan. He explained that during the year under review by the Auditor General, the Ministry of Health paid amounts totaling K745,016,149 to foreign and local suppliers for the supply and delivery of laboratory reagents and cancer and malaria drugs but that from the total procurement, drugs worth K13,750,821 had expired and were awaiting disposal. Dr Mwaba told the committee that there had been a delay in the disposal of the expired drugs because the ministry was financially constrained. Milengi Patriotic Front Member of Parliament Mwansa Mbulakulima took Dr Mwaba to task on how Medical Stores Limited could accept short shelf life drugs when it had specialised pharmacists who could have tested the drugs in the first place. Dr Mwaba said MSL board of directors had discussed the matter and decided to take appropriate disciplinary action and corrective measures against the culprits. He said the ministry instructed the supplier to replace the rejected laboratory commodities and the supplier had agreed to do so. Dr Mwaba also told members of the committee that the company which supplied short life drugs accepted to re-supply long shelf life drugs and they were currently on a ship coming to Zambia. However, he said the changes in the treatment regime by World Health Organisation, particularly for HIV/AIDs treatment, might render some products obsolete, hence leading to expiry of some of the drugs, representing 90 percent of the commodities. Dr Mwaba assured the parliamentarians that MSL would improve communication and coordination in the procurement and supply systems. He said the company would now start sharing information of drugs available with the Ministry of Health on a monthly basis.