RESIDENT Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) president Dr Brian Sampa has accused the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency (ZAMMSA) board of travelling to Egypt to “look for medicine” and going round pharmacies to get quotations when it is not their mandate.

But ZAMMSA board chairperson Dr Anna Chifungula has refuted Sampa’s claims, saying as far as she is aware, no one had traveled to Egypt.

In an interview, Monday, Dr Sampa said he had received reports that ZAMMSA board members went to wholesale pharmacies to get quotations.

“We have gotten reports in the past like two to three weeks that ZAMMSA board members have been going round in wholesale pharmacies getting quotations. We don’t know why they are getting these quotations because in the first place it is not the mandate of the board to be getting quotations from the suppliers. The other thing that has happened is now they have travelled to Egypt and are going to Egypt on taxpayers’ money when we don’t have drugs. Meanwhile, it is not even their mandate still to be moving around looking for drugs. We have got a lot of local suppliers who are capable of supplying without us rushing to go outside. It is very expensive and what is happening is unacceptable,” he said.

“What’s on the ground is that these people have been going round and now the board members are now in Egypt trying to source for medicine something which never, never happened in the past. Because even the law is clear about the mandate of the board. The board is not the one to run the day-to-day activities, even the act stipulates the minimum number of times they can meet. For them, they are just there to oversee that there should be people to run day-to-day activities, which are those people now at ZAMMSA, not the board members who are doing that right now. If this trend continues, we are going to have more problems, already we don’t have any medications in the hospitals.”

But in a separate interview, Monday, Dr Chifungula denied Sampa’s allegations.

“What we were doing is to visit all wholesalers and manufacturers to see what they can supply in the short term. We were doing that to familiarise ourselves with what we have in the country. There were only four companies. When we were finished with the process, we went back to assess them on which company can quickly give us the medicine. We did this exercise with the Zambia Medical Association, Bio medics among others. So we had experts there who were looking at various aspects. But we are done with it,” she said.

“How do we start going to get quotations? It is wrong for someone to make a statement like that because it’s like us going round making decisions. There is nothing like that, it is totally false coming from a senior person like that. We have a shortage of medicine and we can continue to buy from outside. ZAMMSA has a lot of medicine worth millions that have expired.”

She further denied accusations that some board members had travelled to Egypt to look for drugs in that country.

“My God, I don’t even have a passport, it expired a few months ago. I don’t know about anyone having travelled to Egypt. What could be anyone going to Egypt [for]? We have been assisted by the global fund to give us medicine. If we have anything from Egypt probably we have not tapped into it yet. That’s the first time I’m hearing that and no one has briefed me about it,” said Dr Chifungula.