Health Minister Dr. Jonas Chanda has said that Government will engage its legal team to investigate and prosecute those who were involved in the supply of defective condoms and substandard drugs.
Dr. Chanda has also given a one-week ultimatum to Medical Stores Limited and the Zambia Medicines Regulated Authority (ZAMRA) to submit a report indicating how many substandard medical supplies have been recalled.
Dr. Chanda said that he will not tolerate anything that will harm the people and that punitive measures need to be imposed on all those involved in the supply of such medical products.
Dr. Jonas Chanda directed the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) and the Medical Stores Limited (MSL) to issue a report on all the recalled medical products.
Dr. Chanda said that the move is meant to ensure there is a good inventory of all the counterfeit products in the last 12 months in order to protect lives and pave a way forward in terms of restoring public confidence in the country’s health sector.
And Dr. Chanda has called for strict border security that will bring a stop to the entry of counterfeit medical supplies for the safety of Zambians.
He made the remarks when he toured the two facilities and called for total transparency and accountability in the management of public health issues.
He said tightening border security will be a good preventive measure to ensure entry of medical products is restricted at points of entry to avoid recalls or exposure of defective products to the general public.
“Our duty is to protect the lives of the general public from sub-standard products and we need to emphasize regulation, prevention, and then protection,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Chanda disclosed that he will soon sign the commencement order that will actualize the transformation of the Medical Stores Limited to Zambia Medicines and Medical Supply Agency (ZAMMSA) that will see the procurement process be moved from the Ministry of Health to the Medical Stores Limited in order to enhance efficiency.
He says the move will also promote transparency and accountability and also address issues in the medical supply chain such as the shortage of essential medicines among others.
He further says with the signed document, will also help to promote local manufacturing of drugs in order to be medically self-reliant as a country to avoid being victims of counterfeit medical supplies being imported into the country through illegal means by illegal suppliers.
“Statistics indicating that 30% of medicines are counterfeit is a call for action to ensure all loopholes are sealed by setting good standards to avoid unscrupulous suppliers taking advantage of people through black markets,” Dr. Chanda said and called for immediate cancellation and termination of contracts and licenses for unscrupulous suppliers.
Meanwhile, when he toured Levy Mwanawasa University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Chanda called for the review of the procurement process to ensure essential machinery such as the CT scan at the facility which has not been fully functional due to procurement challenges is restored to operational status.
He took advantage of the same tour to update the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic and disclosed that 1,120 new cases were recorded out of 9,809 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, while 13 deaths were recorded with discharges standing at 1,145.