By NOEL IYOMBWA
THE Ministry of Health needs cleansing and all suspicious deals involving medical supplies should be probed because medical staff have suffered, says Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) President, Dr. Brian Sampa.
Dr Sampa also disclosed that medical staff were forced to stop giving prescriptions to patients just to prevent the public from knowing the desperate situation in hospitals,
He said among the suspicious deals to be probed, the Honey deal was prominent.
“The Honeybee scandal and other rots in the health sector must be followed up by the new government to have an efficient and vibrant health system,” Dr Sampa said.
Dr Sampa said there was need for a thorough clean-up of the health system starting from the top if the country was to achieve universal health coverage.
He said in an interview that apart from the Honeybee scandal, whatever wrongs that have engulfed the health sector must be corrected so that they do not happen in the future.
“The rots can only be prevented when the government cleans up the system,” he said.
Dr Sampa said the health sector had in the past faced a number of challenges such as shortages of drugs because of the laissez-faire attitude by some officials.
He said health facilities were instructed to stop issuing prescriptions to hide the fact that there were no essential medicines in clinics and hospitals.
“There are a lot of problems even aside from the Honeybee scandal in the Ministry of Health. If the system can be cleaned from the top going down we wouldn’t have issues such as the Honeybee.
“The government was even stopping people from giving prescriptions; it was illegal. They did not care if the patient got the medicine or not. All they did was to make the government look good,” he said.
Dr Sampa disclosed that it became illegal for health personnel in health facilities to issue a patient with a prescription because some government officials did not want people to know that there was a shortage of drugs in health centres.
He said that RDAZ would continue advising the government regarding the health sector to ensure that the country achieves universal health coverage for all Zambians.
Dr Sampa said that RDAZ will help the government in ensuring that it seals the loopholes where some individuals manipulate who to give contracts.
He said during the PF government the people who were given contracts to supply drugs were cadres who ended up supplying substandard drugs because they did not have capacity to do so and were not real contractors.
“The Honeybee is just a tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of wrong things going on in the health sector, drugs were getting expired because the system was defective.”
Dr. Sampa has been instrumental in calling on the government to address the concerns of resident doctors.
On June 1, Dr. Sampa was sacked then reinstated for allegedly absenting himself from work for more than 10 consecutive working days.
During this period, resident doctors staged a go-slow to press the government to pay them salary arrears among other pending emoluments.