MEDICAL Stores Limited (MSL) says investigations in a matter where several high ranking police officers have been detained for conniving to steal drugs from their stores are underway.
And the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) says the Authority is concerned with the alleged theft of medicines at Medical Stores.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health says they will wait for police to conclude investigations before issuing a comment.
According to a Diggers investigation, the police officers in question used forged documents and dispatch notes to collect an assortment of drugs from Medical Stores, which they would take for sale in Central Province, among other places. Assistant Commissioner Kennedy Chikwanda who is Hospital Administrator at Sikanze Police Hospital in Lusaka; Chief Inspector Potfer Phiri, a Hospital driver; Inspector Sydney Kalonga who is the driver for Dr Phiri the deputy Commissioner of Police and medical director; civilians Vincent Chibale, Alister Lungu the driver for Commissioner of Police in charge of administration at Force Headquarters and Lombe Kamukoshi have all been implicated in the drug theft scandal.
Sources at the Zambia Medical Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) told News Diggers! that in the latest drug pilferage transaction which was intercepted around Nangoma Mission Hospital, a police ambulance was caught on Camera offloading stolen drugs, in a scam that has sent two of the suspects on the run.
In an interview, MSL Managing Director Chikuta Mbewe said they were implementing a very important tolerance policy on any form of diversion of drugs.
“For us at MSL, we take anything to do with security very seriously especially that these are products made for our people. At this stage, the investigations I believe are underway and in terms of procedures, any comments on this can only come through the PS and the Ministry of Health. But what is very important is that once the investigations are completed and then very specific results will come out. You cannot doubt the commitment that we have as an institution and speaking for MSL we are implementing a very important tolerance policy on any form of diversion and sometimes these issues are so sophisticated, they can also take a pattern of fraud. We have a whistle blower policy that we have in place and we have disseminated it in the public and media. We have also printed some reference in some health centers to help us,” said Mbewe.
“Because in this battle, your most important allies are the public. They are the people who are privileged to get information. And once this information is received, I assure you we have a sense of patriotism and urgency for this country that we cannot allow a situation where products (that) are usually at very huge sacrifice by government and its partners are going into the wrong hands. With that, we have also a national task force on pilferage, a very important element. We might not be too much public but I can tell you we have secured very important convictions that also demonstrate the will by government to make sure that we are able to manage these resources to go to the beneficiaries.”
And responding to a press query, ZAMRA Senior Public Relations officer Christabel Iliamupu said the Authority awaited for investigation by the police service to be concluded.
“As provided for under the Medicines and Allied Substances Act No.3 of 2013, the Authority is mandated to ensure that all medicines and allied substances conform to set standards of quality, safety and efficacy throughout the supply chain. As you may be aware, all theft related cases are handled by the Zambia Police Service, however, the Authority is concerned with the issue relating to alleged theft of medicines at medical stores and awaits conclusions of the investigations from the police service. The Authority wishes to reiterate its call for health facilities to ensure safety of medical products through instituting mechanisms to prevent pilferage of medicines and allied substances,” said Iliamupu.
Meanwhile, Health Spokesperson Dr Abel Kabalo said “we shall wait for the police to conclude their investigations before we could comment.”