Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia (PSZ) president Jerome Kanyika says the latest Auditor General’s Report which revealed that some drugs were not delivered despite being paid-for is “rubbish” and shows the level of incompetence in that office.

According to the Report of the Auditor General on the Accounts of the Republic for the financial year ended December 31, 2018, drugs worth over K3.8 million, which were procured by government, were not delivered to medical institutions.

“According to the Auditor General’s Report on the accounts of the Republic for the financial year ended December 31, 2018, drugs worth K3,804,121, which were procured by government were not delivered to medical institutions. Drugs and medical supplies costing K3,804,121 procured by the government from Medical Stores and other suppliers during the period under review had not been delivered by Medical Stores Ltd to the medical institutions in eight provinces as at September 20, 2019,” the AG Report revealed.

The report also revealed that drugs and commodities costing over K1.7 million were an accounted for, and that K179,563 more worth of drugs were delivered to institutions, which did not order for them.

But Kanyika dismissed the findings in an interview, arguing that the figures cited exceeded the Ministry of Health budget, showing a misrepresentation of the facts on the ground.

“I want to say how things are because I understand the Auditor’s Report has misled the people of Zambia or misrepresented the facts on the ground. There is an issue of undelivered drugs of K3.8 million, there is also an issue of unaccounted for drugs, which is about K1.7 million; there is also an issue of drugs that were not ordered, but were sent to the facilities. On undelivered drugs, we have a big challenge here that the auditors have misled the people! The budget allocation for drugs last year (2018) was K900,000 and then the budget allocation for Ministry of Health was not more than K3 million. And the auditors said K3.8 million worth of drugs were not delivered,” Kanyika said.

“Now, what the auditors didn’t inform the nation is how much drugs were procured by MSL (Medical Stores Limited). They were supposed to indicate in their report to say ‘so much worth of drugs were procured by MSL and from this amount of drugs that were procured, so much worth of drugs were undelivered.’ But if we just say ‘K3.8 million worth of drugs were undelivered, it is more than the budget allocation for MoH for 2018. Add K1.7 million unaccounted for drugs, then add K900,000 drugs delivered, but not ordered, you will discover that the total amount of money will be more than K6 million, which was way above the budget for MoH!”

He stressed that MSL delivered drugs to health facilities based on the assessed consumption levels.

“When the auditors were moving in these facilities to check about the issues of the drugs, a facility order, for example 50 tins of Panadol, then Medical Stores dispatch or delivered five tins of Panadol. Then according to the auditors, they will say ‘Medical Stores didn’t deliver 50 tins when medical stores didn’t have the 50 tins to give the facility. Where are they going to get those drugs from if they don’t have it in their stores? And why can’t the auditors check on the delivery note and the dispatch note on the amount of drugs that were sent to a certain facility? Why can’t the auditors use the correct figures? To me, this shows that there is a lot of incompetence at the Office of the Auditor General in terms of the pharmaceutical sector. I would appreciate that that Report, which the auditors have, they should stated the amount of drugs that were procured by Medical Stores. And when ordering drugs, Medical Stores first checks the consumption for that medical facility. A facility may order 100 tins of Panadol, but their consumption is three tins of Panadol. Why should Medical Stores give 100 tins of Panadol to that facility? It’s not possible,” he argued.

He described the Report as misleading.

“And not only that, let also the Office of the Auditor General also be subjected to the parliamentary committee on Public Accounts so that they also show the people of Zambia that the information, which they present is very credible. As far as I am concerned, the information that they have presented is very misleading and is not the representation of the facts. For us, as Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia, that Report in terms of the pharmaceutical sector has missed the point and has shown incompetence on the Auditor General’s Office! But that Report in terms of pharmaceutical drugs, that’s rubbish! And as a country, we cannot continue with such kind of misrepresentation by the Office of the Auditor General, which should say the facts and understand things properly,” he said.

And Kanyika suggested that his Association stood ready to help in terms of auditing the drug supply sub-sector if the Auditor General’s Office had no capacity to do “proper audits.”

“What is so difficult for them to engage the professionals and understand things in terms of drugs? They can engage the professionals and we are ready to help them and to teach them how we do auditing in terms of drugs; not these things, which are not adding up at all,” said Kanyika.