AUDITOR General Dr Dick Sichembe has called for timely action on issues raised by his office, warning that not doing so may be detrimental to citizens.
According to a statement released by head of public relations Ellen Chikale, Tuesday, Dr Sichembe said in the Auditor General’s report of 2016, it was revealed that drugs worth K66, 801,022 involving 1,763 transactions which were kept at a rented warehouse in Lusaka’s Makeni area had expired and had not been disposed of as of June 2017.
“Auditor General Dr. Dick Chellah Sichembe has been following with keen interest and supports the recent action taken by the Minister of Health, in particular, on the issues concerning the expired drugs and failure to dispose of expired drugs among others. Dr. Sichembe said that the public may wish to know that the issue of Expired Drugs was raised by the Office in the Report of the Auditor General on the Accounts of the Republic for the financial year ended 31st December 2016,” Chikale stated.
“In the 2016 Auditor General’s Report, mention was made of various drugs such as anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), laboratory reagents, Tuberculosis (TB) and Malaria drugs worth K66, 801,022 involving 1,763 transactions which were kept at a rented warehouse in Makeni, Lusaka had expired and had not been disposed of as of June 2017 stated the report.”
Sichembe further commended the Secretary to Cabinet and the Secretary to the Treasury on the timely disciplinary action taken on erring officers cited in the 2019 report.
“The Auditor General has since called for timely action to be taken on all audit issues that his Office raises as not doing so may be to the detriment of the citizens and the country. He further wishes to commend the Secretary to Cabinet and the Secretary to the Treasury on the timely disciplinary action taken on erring officers cited in the Auditor General’s Report for the financial year ended 31st December 2019,” stated Chikale.
On Monday, Minister of Health Dr Jonas Chanda bemoaned the large number of drugs expiring at the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supply Agency (ZAMMSA) when health facilities are experiencing drug shortages.
“So that is a wastage to the country because the country spends a lot of money buying drugs that will never be used in the facilities. They expire then we start now throwing them away when we have spent millions of kwacha, even dollars. So that is totally unacceptable. It’s a bad wastage of resources. Then we are not doing a service to the Zambian people because if they are all seated here expired, I mean when I tour hospitals, one of the major issues is there are no drugs,” said Dr Chanda.
“Very important products that are expiring here, life saving, clorophenical suspension, very important antibiotic, yet it’s expiring here at Medical Stores when it’s supposed to have been used somewhere at a facility. When was the expiry date for this? So 2017, this is which year? So 2017 to 2021, is how many years? Dour years. Now four years we are still dealing with things that expired four years ago because a child born four years ago are they still breastfeeding? So this is what we are allowing. Let me tell you, the real danger, apart from the incompetence in procurement and keeping those things expired, the money that government is wasting and the denial of services to the patient, the real danger is that with the corruption that is rampant in some of our people who are pilfering drugs, they will come and get this same expired thing, it will find itself in a private pharmacy somewhere and unsuspecting Zambians are going to buy this when it expired four years ago, you are keeping it here.”