HEALTH Minister Sylvia Masebo yesterday made a random visit to Matero Level One Hospital and described the health facility as the most notorious, fuming that she was aware that pharmacists were stealing drugs and taking them to private clinics.
And Masebo says people cannot see the change because there is no difference, adding that in some cases, it actually seems like things are getting worse.
Speaking when she addressed hospital management, Masebo said she was aware that volunteers were left to administer drugs because employed pharmacists were going to work in private facilities.
“I want to see a note where somebody has issued that they are sick. This is what is happening and I know the whole story about pharmacists. The actual pharmacists are leaving the young volunteers to run pharmacies. Especially on Saturday and Sunday, only volunteers are working. People not employed by the government are the ones being left to administer drugs without a supervisor. You know the law that a volunteer cannot be working without a supervisor. I was at Levy and just a young volunteer was dispensing medicine,” she said.
“I have not even told the gentleman there I have just kept quiet because I know what is happening. So when we start acting, do not ask me questions, especially you people in the press. You are the people who are even causing me more problems. Instead of helping, you are actually causing problems for us. Matero Level 1 hospital is one of the most notorious hospitals as far as I am concerned because I get more complaints than any other hospital in Lusaka. When I compare Chawama, Chilenje, this one is the worst.”
Masebo lamented that drugs were being stolen because the system was still porous.
“Honestly, I am not happy. There is a lot of work that we need to do. Personally I am not happy. Sometimes as I go for these random checks is to try and verify the stories that I get from the public. The most notorious hospital in terms of complaints, is this hospital. Most government workers employed in these facilities are not working. They come to the office at eight in the morning and by 10, they are out in private pharmacies. I found these in Chipata as well. So no wonder we have a problem even with drugs,” Masebo said.
“I also know that a number of drugs are being stolen from the pharmacies. I am also aware that even when drugs are disbursed from the main stores, the system is still porous. We need to strengthen systems. Systems are coming and we are working out something to ensure that we begin to track these drugs. The current system is not water tight. Government is doing its part but we still have the Zambian mentality of getting rich quickly. That is killing us as a people.”
Earlier, Masebo told some officials who accompanied her that “…they are stealing drugs and taking wherever they are getting money.”
And Masebo said people could not see the change because there appeared to no difference.
“This corruption is not just politicians, even just the civil service. Even an ordinary sweeper sometimes you find has deals going on at that level. The Minister cannot be everywhere. So it requires systems to be put in place to catch the culprits. We cannot continue to sit in offices when people are suffering and being exposed to spending hours, because few officers that are there are not putting in their best. People are getting money for nothing. You know what happens, when things are bad at the bottom, it is us at the top that get chopped. So our necks are on the chopping board,” said Masebo.
“So I am not happy with the seniors at this hospital because it is you who are letting me down. If you put your foot down, you have all the powers. So let us work. People want to see the change, they cannot see the change. There is no difference. Maybe even in some cases, even things are getting worse. Why should people be told to go and get medicine at a particular drug store? We have drugs in the pharmacy but you are forcing patients to get drugs from outside, why? People do not understand what is happening. I am aware of hospitals where things are very good. People must begin to see the difference that the budget has doubled and not just talk on the mouth.”