Health Minister DR Chitalu Chilufya says government through his ministry is investing in a new fleet of 42 different trucks which will be dispatched to various parts of the country.

Dr Chilufya said government through his ministry has further signed an agreement with the European Union for €4.8 million for the expansion of Medical Stores warehouse from 8,000 palates to 32,000.

Speaking when he toured Medical Stores Limited on Sunday, Dr Chilufya also said that medical stores warehouse would next week be closed for two weeks for stock taking.

“This year we signed an agreement with the European Union for €4.8 million and that will result in further expansion of our warehouse and next year, our warehouse will increase capacity from 8,000 palates to 32,000 palates. In is part of our investment in the medicine supply chain so that we can improve our holding capacity and improve the way we store drugs and so that we can adequately service the whole nation. We have also invested in a new fleet of trucks, of 42 truck and these are various types and are going to various parts of the country. We have also invested in medical hubs, this year we started in Chipata, in Mansa, on the Copperbelt in Luanshya, in Mpika and next year in quarter one, we will be doing Kabompo and we will be improving the hub that is in Mongo by building a purpose built one because right now we are renting. We will also be doing the same in Choma,” Dr Chilufya said.

Dr Chilufya also dismissed claims that people were getting expired ARVs further challenging those that had received expired drugs to report to his ministry.

“Following the directive by His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to stop pilferage, this is the reason you are seeing us investing in better health security systems. Secondly I want to put to rest that there are people getting expired drugs, so you have seen right in the warehouse here, these are the ARVs that we have in the country. Right now, what we are sending out there, the earliest expiry date is 2019 as you heard from our warehouse manager. This means that it is not possible for us to be dispersing ARVs that are expired. We want to challenge everybody who has gotten expired ARVs from our facilities to bring the prescription to our office and we will be able to take stringent measures. What we know is that we don’t have nay expired drugs,” Dr Chilufya said.

He also boasted about the increased budgetary allocation for drugs from K769 million in 2017 to K1.2 billion in 2018.

“The increase from K769 million of the drugs last year in 2017 to K1.2 billion in 2018 is evidence of our commitment. Innovating health care financing will also give us enough resources to invest even in more public health commodities to ensure that the universal health coverage agenda is moving,” he added.

The minister further disclosed that medical stores limited would be closed next week to facilitate for stock taking.

“Its important to note that you will see increased loads going out, why? Because we want to front load our provinces for two major reasons, (I) some facilities will be cut-off during the rain season and (ii) We are closing medical stores warehouse next week for two weeks for stock take. So we are giving out four to six months to all the provinces so that we don’t have any challenges,” said Dr Chilufya.

Meanwhile Medical Stores limited Director of Logistic Litongo Sondashi said the country still had enough ARVs in stock to last for ten months.

“We do have most of our ARVs, we have adequate stock for 10 months, we have some again in the pipe line coming in from Ministry of health, global fund, and PSM. So really we assure the nation that with ARVs, we are well stocked. We have no shortages at all,” Sondashi said.