The cost of political interference and mismanagement in the procurement of drugs and other medical supplies at the then Central Medical Stores is now taking a toll on tax payers as items worth $2.3 million (about K1 billion) are scheduled to be destroyed.
Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) has confirmed that some overbought items worth about K1 billion, which have been in the warehouses since 2008, would be destroyed because they have expired.
But sources said the drugs and other supplies that would be destroyed, an exercise technically called boarding off, have expired because wrong quantities were procured under political influence.
“As you know, there was a lot of political interference in the procurement of drugs and other medical supplies. People would be given contracts to supply even when they know nothing about drugs and the quantities were exaggerated,” said one source.
Added the source: “Drugs are not like any other business, and you would see that some of the drugs did not even meet the standard quality. This is why the warehouses are full of such drugs because they could not be supplied to health facilities.”
Another source said the handling and storage of drugs by vendors without medical expertise has also potential to lead to the non-use of some of the drugs procured using the old system.
CMST public relations officer Herbert Chandilanga confirmed that the trust was in the process of getting rid of some drugs which, he said, would create space in the warehouses for the consignments.
“The [drugs] have expired. They are drugs used in health facilities but change of use [changes in treatment regimen], misprocurement and also mismanagement has led to their expiring on the shelves,” said Chandilanga.
Among the drugs and supplies to be destroyed are tablets and capsules, injections, vaccines, Galenicals, surgical dressings, sutures, surgical equipment, Ophthalmic items, dispensary items, lab reagents, X-ray films and equipment, dental items, Global Fund items, TB Programme items and various others.
“These drugs have accumulated over the years, some as early as 2008. New management is putting in place mechanisms to avoid this through, for example, training staff and improving management systems,” said Chandilanga.
He said although the exercise of boarding off the drugs and supplies was expected to take place soon, the process takes time.
“We would have been happy if the destroying of these takes place as soon as possible because it would free warehouse space for oncoming shipment.
“But while we know that it could be soon, we now await normal government procedure which involves various parties including Ministry of Health, Pharmacies, Medicines and Poisons Board [PMPB], Police and Ministry of Finance,” he said.
CMST chief executive officer Feston Kaupa said recently that the trust was working with donors to improve its drug procurement, distribution and monitoring systems.