Malawi leader, doctors shocked on CMST medication purchases

President Joyce Banda,  most of the health officials and experts meeting at Kamuzu Palace in the capital city, Lilongwe, were shocked to learn that government has spent the past two years inviting bids from companies and individuals to supply medications.

For the period, ordinary citizens have been denied medication and more have died resultant from easily treatable health complications.

Also attended by all the District Health Officers (DHOs), the meetings learned that since October last year after a top health officials’ meeting, nothing was done to correct the situation.

Nsanje district health officer Dr Medson Matchaya , openly challenged top officials on their not doing anything, leading to preventable deaths.

Doctor Mataya joined others to blame the drug crisis in Malawi on inadequate funding, long and bureaucratic procurement processes, the centralised health system and use of intermediaries to buy drugs.--Photos Lisa Vintulla/Mana

Doctor Mataya joined others to blame the drug crisis in Malawi on inadequate funding, long and bureaucratic procurement processes, the centralised health system and use of intermediaries to buy drugs.–Photos Lisa Vintulla/Mana

The President responding to issues during the meeting.

The President responding to issues during the meeting.

The meeting then agreed that the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) should procure medications using its own mechanisms and not outsource from other suppliers and individuals, which was costly and also consumed time.

World Vision Malawi, which is a key player in medication services in rural areas through its Area Development Programs (ADPs), has since offered to also purchase some medications starting this week to help ease the situation.

South Africa and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) have promised to buy drugs for the country and the first procurement is expected to arrive next week.

Minister of Health Catherine Gotani-Hara last week said the current drug crisis has left the country with an almost 95 percent stock-out of essential drugs, especially in district and central hospitals.

Recently, doctors from Kamuzu Central Hospital published an open letter to the President and the public to draw attention to the acute shortage of basic medical provisions at the referral hospital.

President Banda said to ensure public hospitals in the country do not run  out of  drug  stocks and other health related services, it would be important that both central and district hospitals control their own resources.

“It is really pathetic to see our brothers and sisters dying when we can together save their lives. I am therefore happy to learn that by giving powers to hospital to buy drugs and carry some functions independently would help in ending the problem,” Banda said.

To avoid abuse of drugs by the hospitals, the President and hospital doctors agreed that it would be important that government make an effort and directly order drugs from manufactures and that the drugs should be printed ‘Malawi Government’ by the manufacturer.

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