Minister of Health Silvia Masebo has bemoaned the theft of medicines and medical supplies in public health facilities which contributes to drug shortages in public health facilities.
Ms Masebo says pilfering of medicines is a matter of concern and urgency as it undermines the efforts of the government to provide quality healthcare services to all.
Speaking when she opened a consultative meeting on the theft of medicines and medical supplies in Public Health Institutions, Ms Masebo stressed that thefts of medicines are not only illegal but also unethical, as it directly affects the lives of the most vulnerable members of society.
Ms Masebo said thefts of medicines and medical supplies from public health facilities, deprives patients of the much needed care and treatment of their ailments which may lead to disability or death.
She said the government has reaffirmed commitment to the provision of equitable access to quality, safe and effective medicines, vaccines and medical supplies for people, which are affordable in line with the National Drug Policy.
She said to achieve this, the Ministry of Health, with other cooperating partners, has for a long time invested substantial amounts of money in the public sector pharmaceutical supply chain.
She added that this is evidenced from the increased budgetary allocation for the health sector from 1.2 billion to 4.6 billion for the procurement of medicines and medical supplies in the 2023 National Budget.
” With this increased financing the availability of medicines and medical supplies is expected to improve in all health facilities as we have all witnessed the arrival and distribution of 7000 health centre drug kits to all Districts and health centres across the country.” She said
The Minister said all efforts are being done in order for the country to be commodity secure but it is sad to see various factors that are creating gaps in the availability and access to essential medicines and medical supplies.
She reiterated that shortages of medical supplies from public health facilities also frustrates the efforts of dedicated healthcare workers who work tirelessly to ensure quality services are provided for the people.
She said that the Ministry of Health through a multi sectoral approach has arrested 70 people with 35 convictions of which 26 are health workers.
The Ministry has further taken a step to write to the Health Professions Council of Zambia to have those convicted be deregistered.