Malawi govt to honour MK7.5bn debt to Central Medical Stores Trust – Minister

Government has committed itself to honour its outstanding debt of around MK7.5 billion to the Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) accumulated in the period 2011 to 2014.

Kumpalume (centre) inpsecting the CMST warehouse
Kumpalume (centre) inpsecting the CMST warehouse

This was said by the minister of health Dr Peter Kumpalume on Friday when he visited the CMST headquarters in Lilongwe with the aim of appreciating the various reforms being instituted by the medical trust, the procedures being taken to address shortage of drugs and at the same time observe the challenges CMST is facing.

“Yes we still owe the Central Medical Stores trust money amounting to K7.5 million which are arrears accumulated around 2011 to 2014. The Treasury department will surely pick it up so that these dues are settled once and for all.

“On the other hand, it is worth appreciating that as of this year, no bill has been accumulated and this money is from a couple of years back,” said Kumpalume.

The minister said he was impressed with the efforts that the Medical stores is doing in ensuring drug availability saying no hospital is currently completely out of stock of drugs.

According to him, the medical stocks have so far risen since July 2015.

“It is a commendable job our Medical store is doing here. We are being encouraged by the efforts being put in place by the CMST to ensure drug availability in our health facilities across the country.

“However, its operations are still being hampered by a couple of problems. Firstly, there is a challenge of storage space for drugs and supplies. This is the reason why we have a new storage facility which will help in piling up drugs.

“Then, there are always the financial problems and the devaluation of the kwacha, is affecting the purchasing power of the medical stores. Despite that, we have still seen stocks of drugs rising,” said Kumpalume.

On theft of drugs, the minister said it was intricate to say drugs could be stolen at the headquarters but rather leakages are found at the health facilities.

“When these drugs reach our communities, there are other people who conspire to sell these drugs. And I am glad because when I was given this ministerial task, I made the fight against stealing of drugs as one of my priority areas to address. We’re on the right path and I am glad that the general public is now able to report cases of drug theft. Next time we shall have no cases of drug theft,” he said.

In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CMST Feston Kaupa said it was encouraging to be visited by the minister who has amongst others observed the challenges being faced by the Trust and also had raised some recommendations for the medical stores and expressed governments commitment in paying back its arrears.

“There are two major customers of CMST, namely; the Ministry of Health and the National Local Government Financing Committee and these are the departments that owe us this money, MK7.5 billion. This debt was there way before we became a Trust.

“However, we are all together going to engage the National Audit Office which will have to go back to the various health facilities where we provided drugs and verify that we indeed supplied the drugs. After this verification, government will start the process of initiating the payment.

“But, from the year 2015, there is a new procedure whereby drugs will be paid for in advance to avoid accumulation of debt,” said Kaupa.

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