Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume on Wednesday suspended some of his official duties to make an impromptu visit to Bwaila Hospital in Lilongwe where four hospital workers were earlier arrested on medical drug theft suspicion.
Kumpalume warned the government would take drastic action against any health worker involved in drug thefts, saying this was putting lives of ordinary Malawians at risk.
He asked the courts to mete out stiff punishment to convicts to deter others from the malpractice.
His outbursts come amid severe criticisms that the government is not doing much to curb drug theft in public hospitals which prompted the US ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer threatening to withdraw anti malaria drugs which his government donates to Malawi accounting for 95 percent of the antimalaria drugs in public hospitals.
Kumpalume was just coming from Mangochi where he met district health officers and pharmacists from across the country among others to find solutions on the increasingly drug shortages in hospitals.
Spokesman for ministry of Health Adrian Chikumbe said the four were caught as they wanted to get the medicine out of the hospital premises.
“Management had changed the watchmen so this new set of watchmen managed to apprehend the suspects,” he said.
The alleged stolen medicine included La, which treats malaria.
In Chitipa, the court there has sentenced an illegal medical drug trader to one and half years in prison with hard labour for stealing drugs at the district hospital worth K90,0000.
Police spokesman in Chitipa, Gladwell Simwaka confirmed the conviction and sentencing of John Msiska, 55.
Simwaka also said the police have now netted Msiska’s alleged accomplices who work at Chitipa District Hospital including medical assistants.
The arrested hospital workers are Owen Munyenyembe, 47, Aubrey Munkhondia, 53 and hospital guard Fanson Kanthomba.
These reports come as Dedza District Hospital has sent an SOS on severe drug shortage including anti rabies.
The hospital also says Central Region Water Board has disconnected water supply to the hospital due to an outstanding bill of K3.2m and the hospital suspended provision of food to patients since last Tuesday due to lack of money.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :