The latest Auditor General’s Report has highlighted a number of irregularities at the Ministry of Health, ranging from irregular payment of salaries where officers who had resigned from the public service continued receiving salaries.
The Report has also recorded poor storage of medical supplies at Levy Mwanawasa Hospital in Lusaka where all drugs for the hospital were being stored in a room that had sewer pipes passing through from top to bottom, thereby, posing a risk of drugs being soaked.
According to the Report of the Auditor General on the Accounts of the Republic for the financial year ended December 31, 2018, which was released last week, officers who resigned from the public service were still on payroll and had been paid salaries in amounts totalling K1,512,540 for periods ranging from five to 29 months.
The Report further revealed that an officer, who resigned from Luanshya District hospital in 2017, was paid salaries in amounts totalling K64,932 for the period from November, 2017 to May, 2018 despite having left the service and that as at September 20, 2019, the salaries accrued had not been recovered.
“During the period from January, 2017, to February, 2019, 10 officers who resigned from the public service were still on payroll and had been paid salaries in amounts totalling K1,512,540 for periods ranging from five to 29 months. Another officer who deserted the office upon completion of his internship in June, 2018, a resident medical officer at University Teaching Hospital (UTH) was transferred to Kanyama First-Level Hospital. Inquiries made with human resource personnel at Kanyama First-Level Hospital revealed that the officer never reported at the hospital and his whereabouts were not known. In her response dated August 26, 2019, the controlling officer stated that management had recommended termination of the contract on account of absenteeism to the Public Service Management Division (PSMD) for onward submission to the Civil Service Commission for conclusion of the matter. She further stated that any potential recoveries will be effected from the deserter’s terminal benefits. However, as at 20th September, 2019, the matter had not been concluded and the deserter had since been paid salaries in amounts totaling K274,092,” the Report revealed.
“Other records maintained at the provincial medical offices, selected hospitals and district medical offices carried out during the period from January to June, 2019, revealed the following: Payment of salaries to an oficer who resigned in November, 2017, an officer at Luanshya DHO resigned from the service. However, an examination of the payroll revealed that the officer was paid salaries in amounts totaling K64,932 for the period from November, 2017, to May, 2018. As at 20th September, 2019, the salaries had not been recovered; during the period under review, salaries in amounts totaling K62,239 were paid to an officer at Katete DHO who was not known by the head of station where the officer was assigned.
The Report also revealed irregular payment of salaries to officers on unpaid leave and those absent from duty without leave as prescribed in the terms and conditions of service for the public service.
“Section (a) of part 136 of chapter 6 of the terms and conditions of service for the public service states that ‘an established officer, who is not eligible for paid study leave may be granted unpaid study leave on application through the Permanent Secretary, Public Service Management Division.’ During the period under review, two officers at two stations had applied and were granted unpaid leave for periods, ranging from one to five years. However, the officers were irregularly paid salaries in amounts totalling K183,262 for the period they were on unpaid leave without authority from Public Service Management Division (PSMD). [Then] according to Sections (a) and (b) of part 60 of chapter 4 of the terms and conditions of service for the public service, an officer who is absent from duty without leave to do so for a continuous period of 10 days or more working days, shall be liable for dismissal and shall not be paid a salary for the period he or she was absent from duty. Contrary to the terms and conditions of service, three officers at Arthur Davison Hospital who were absent from duty for periods, ranging from two to three months had not been separated from service and were irregularly paid salaries in amounts totalling K33,095,” the Report revealed.
And the Report exposed poor storage of medical supplies at Levy Mwanawasa Teaching Hospital in Lusaka.
“A physical inspection of the main pharmacy at Levy Mwanawasa Hospital conducted in March, 2019, revealed that the storeroom for the pharmacy where all drugs procured were being stored had sewer pipes passing through from the top to the bottom, thereby, posing a risk of drugs being soaked in an event of sewage spillage,” the report said.
Further, the Report recorded irregular payment of transport refunds at the Lusaka Provincial Health Office.
“Cabinet Office Circular No. 11 of 2013 abolished the payment of all administrative allowances to officers in the public service. However, contrary to the circular, amounts totalling K323,577 were drawn to pay transport refunds to 33 public service officers working over weekends filing documents, typing, sweeping the offices, monitoring in the district and other peripheral areas activities that were done during normal working days,” revealed the Report.