Malawi govt, US launch campaign to stop drug thefts in public hospitals

Malawi and US governments have joined hands to fight rampant drug thefts in Malawi which is costing both governments about US$11 million (over MK7 billion) per year.

Magwira: Speak out now

Magwira: Speak out now

Speaking at Bingu International Conventional Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe alongside the launch of two campaigns to fight drug theft in the country. The Global Fund campaign, ‘I Speak Out Now’ and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) campaign, ‘Make a Difference’ (MAD), both principal secretary for Health Mac Phaire Magwira and US ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer said the campaign launch was a start to the end of drug theft.

“In 2013, a study was conducted which revealed that drug theft is costing us. US$11 million. A recent study whose results will be made public soon shows things are not changing at all,” Magwira said.

He said the government has since formed a Drug Theft Administration Unit which has also the police as members who will be inspecting drug availability in public hospitals.

“We have put a number of measures in place, we have a Unit on Drug theft investigation which comprises with officer from the Malawi Police, the ministry and auditors, these are the people who will be going out in all the health facilities to inspect and verify the availability of drugs in the health facilities,” said Magwira.

US ambassador Palmer said the US wanted to stop stocking drugs in public hospitals because of rampant thefts but took into consideration the poorest of the poor who risked death if the US had withdrawn the drug aid.

“Imagine some people are sent to buy medicine just because officials have sold all the drugs. There are large sticks of drugs in markets than they are in hospitals,” she said.

She said it was disheartening when she discovered that 10 clinics were rating highly in drug thefts. The US provides 80 percent of malaria drugs in public hospitals.

“Theft of medicines, just like the theft of property is a crime,” said the US envoy.

Palmer said the campaigns will encourage Malawians to report suspected theft or illegal storage or sale of medicines and other health commodities by telephone or email.

She said other individuals in health facilities across the country are intentionally stealing huge quantities of drugs from clinics and selling them elsewhere, including across borders.

“They are doing this to profit personally, they are stealing from government of Malawi, they are stealing from U.S government and most seriously they are stealing from the people of this country who need these lifesaving drugs,” said the Ambassador.

To report stolen anti-malaria medicine, government and U.S government have established the toll-free hotline 800 00 847 for land lines, 847 for mobile phones or send an email to [email protected], [email protected]  and [email protected].

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When solving serious problems, there are always a need to seriously identify the root causes of the problems as in this case the Drug Thefty in Malawi. Further more, to identify the root causes is more difficult than than identify the problem itself. To be honest enough, these people are not serious enough to solve problem and they don’t know what they are talking about.Look, they targeting facility Pharmancies and drug stores as only outlet of drugs at the facility.For your information, drugs from the Pharmancy are dispensed to various words where accountability is 0%.To target Pharmancy personnel will yield… Read more »
Winston Msowoya
How dare you send a thief to catch a thief? People who are in well placed positions are the ones who steal drugs.The people of Malawi knew this theft long time ago and you must not pretend that this issue is new and unknown to the high authorities.Frankly speaking,Malawi has joined a chain of failed states in Africa such as Zimbabwe where patients are told to bring with them sheets,blankets,pillows and things like that,in the Congo DRC patients are required to bring their own medicines and pay the doctors if they are available in that case.Let’s agree that the leaders… Read more »
Wise man from Bangwe

This is so stupid!!! Make selling of drugs such as intibiotics without doctors presription illegal. Arrest and prosecute illegal vendors. You will stop this in a month but you can not police vendors because there is a network involving police and some politicians so you pick on health facilities so you can blame pharmacy assistants and poor district health officers. Palner, Maquire will eat your money to the last cence and you will not see an effect. By the way, maybe you are also part of the allowance eating network? Why come up with such a silly move.

Ze Roberto

This so called God fearing nation never stops amazing me. Look, it takes another country to tell us on how to put our house in order. What is wrong with blackman? Despite all the systems and so called heads of departments we have in the country who day in day out go to offices but we can’t stamp out the problem of drug theft.


Bwana magwira…i myself is a communication expert …this campaign will yield nothing…we need a new approach and management of our health system

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