The Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi on Monday commissioned 238 newly installed prefabricated pharmacy units at Ming’ongo Health Centre in Lilongwe.
Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, Muluzi said in 2014, the Ministry of Health conducted a comprehensive assessment of public health facilities which revealed that 77 per cent lacked adequate storage space for medicines and various other medical supplies.
The revelation prompted the ministry (of Health), the UK and US governments through the Department for International Development (DFID) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) respectively to increase the storage for medicines and medical supplies in Malawi’s health facilities.
“In November 2016, the United States and the UK agreed to fund the installation of 115 prefabricated pharmacy storages in a-Box-Units. This year, they have come again and assisted us with 238 Units which we are commissioning today. We do not take this for granted,” said Muluzi.
Muluzi highlighted the importance of the storage facilities, saying they will deter some of the challenges in the county’s health facilities such as misuse, theft and spoilage.
He thanked the UK and US governments for the support towards health services in the country.
In her remarks, the US Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer said the Units which have been installed throughout the country are an important physical representation of the US and UK partnership with Malawi.
The ambassador observed that the comprehensive assessment done in 2014 meant that many improperly stored or out-of-date medicines and supplies, including pneumonia, malaria and HIV treatment and family planning supplies were less effective when provided to patients.
She said the assessment also meant that medicines were not adequately secured, leading to significant pilferage.
The success of the first trilateral partnership which led to the installation of 115 units has led to the second investment to install 238 units, according to the American Envoy.
“While we believe the 353 storage units will deter drug theft, we must acknowledge that drug theft persists as a critical issue that actively threatens the public health system today.
“Drug theft is a matter of life and death. Each of us plays a critical role in halting drug theft and ensuring that medicines reach the Malawian people who need them,” said Ambassador Palmer.
She noted that with the installation of the units, over 95 per cent of Malawi’s public health facilities now have adequate space to store medicines and other medical commodities.
The US Government has provided US$1.5 million (over K1 billion) towards the purchase and installation of the prefabricated pharmacy storage units.
Head of DFID- Malawi, Dave Beer assured people of Malawi they will remain committed to work with the Ministry of Health for the development of health system in the country.
“Ensuring the quality, safety and security of medicines is vital for an effective health system. These pharmacy storage units will help make sure that more Malawians can get access to the medicines they need when they need them,” said Beer.
He said it will also be imperative that effective controls are in place to manage the stock in the prefabricated pharmacy units.
The UK Government provided 11 million pounds (over K9.9 billion) for the new project.
In his remarks, Chief Malolo commended the governments of Malawi, USA and UK for the initiative and promised to take care of the storage units in his area.
Each unit comes with a roof of galvanized sheeting and insulation, 2 air conditioners, a double door with security gates, shelving and pallets, and a desk.
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