The Department for International Development (DfID) of the UK has said it expects nothing less than transparency in drug procurement by Malawi’s Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST).
DfID, one of the main donors pooling resources for the procurement of medical supplies in Malawi, was speaking after revelations of presidential influence in the award of contracts by the CMST.
In an e-mail interview last week, Susan Clapham, DfID’s Health and HIV adviser, who also chairs a health donor group, said transparent procurement “ultimately promotes health gain in the population”.
“I take this opportunity to reinforce the principle that all procurement be driven by the principles of quality drugs being provided at the most competitive prices. Transparent procurement practices in line with evidence-based medicine, generic specifications, value for money criteria and a strong quality assurance foundation is essential,” she said.
At the time of the interview, Clapham was not aware of a presidential directive cancelling drug procurement contracts but was aware of a court injunction that has since been vacated to pave the way for the procurement of an emergency consignment of cholera, malaria and diabetes medical supplies.
“I am not aware of political influence. Yes, I am aware that an injunction was taken out in December against CMST proceeding with an emergency procurement. I understand that the injunction was vacated and the tender processed and award of contract will be made soon,” said Clapham.
Our sister paper, Weekend Nation, revealed on Saturday that President Joyce Banda cancelled the contracts Clapham is referring to at the eleventh hour in a manner that raised questions.
Following the cancellation, sources from the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) and State House said this week government has directed CMST to award contracts to two suppliers—Sadm Pharmaceuticals Limited and Victoria Pharmaceuticals—before a fresh procurement process it has ordered is finalised.