DRUGS SHORTAGE: POLITICS AT PLAY – as parley confirms critical shortage of drugs in hospitals, reveals 9 tenders for procurement of medicines were cancelled without mitigation plan
THE persistent and critical shortage of medicines and other medical supplies in health facilities across the country has been caused by procurement politics and attempts to isolate credible supplies from the supply chain by the Ministry of Health, it has been observed.
It has also been observed that the constant cancellation of tenders to supply and deliver medicines and other medical supplies by the Ministry of Health has led to the non-availability of drugs in hospitals and other medical facilities.
The Parliamentary Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Services on the availability of medicines and medical supplies in health facilities countrywide has observed that the supply chain of essential medicines, including surgical supplies and laboratory reagents had been cut resulting in the shortage in health facilities.
The Committee has stated that unnecessary disturbance to the supply chain in the procurement of drugs had led to the disruption of service delivery which has taken long to recover.
The Committee says the continued critical shortage of medicines and other medical supplies was causing dissatisfaction among citizens and many Members of Parliament who had often brought the non-availability of drugs in hospitals before the floor of the House.
Ms Sylvia Masebo, the Minister of Health has consistently denied reports of the shortage of medicines and other medical supplies, claiming that she has so far done the best in ensuring that hospitals and clinics were adequately stocked with all essential drugs.
But the Parliamentary Committee has confirmed that in fact there is indeed a critical shortage of medicines and other medical supplies in all medical facilities across the country.
“The Ministry of Health cancelled nine contracts for the supply of essential medicines without putting in place a mitigation plan which has contributed to the erratic supply of medicines and medical supplies to health facilities across the country,” the Committee states in its report. The Committee in its report to the Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti has since made 14 recommendations among which is that Government should renegotiate and reinstate the nine cancelled contracts for the supply and delivery of medicines and other medical supplies. The Committte has also recommend that Government should fast-track the promotion of local pharmaceutical manufacturing companies through incentives such as tax waivers as has been the case in the mining, tourism and agriculture sector.
“The Committee is of the view that the supply chain of essential medicines, surgical supplies and laboratory reagents is below par and worrisome. The situation currently is characterised by insufficient, erratic and inconsistent supply by ZAMMSA. This has led to the current shortage and stock-outs being experienced countrywide, which has impacted negatively in the quality of health care services,” the Committee stated in its report. The reports indicates that all the medical facilities that were visited attributed the shortage of medicines and medical supplies being experienced countrywide to ZAMMSA and that the stock-outs were as high as 59.8 percent. The Committee consisted of Dr Christopher Kalila whom was the Chairman, Mrs Majorie Nakaponda, the Vice-Chairperson, Mr Paul Chala, Mr Heartson Mabeta, Mr Joseph Musanje, Mr Monty Chinkuni, Mr Luhamba Mwene, Mr Leevan Chibombwe and Dr Aaron Mwanza, all Members of Parliament.