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GRAPPLING WITH HEALTH CARE

IT may be pointless, but we will not tire speaking out for the ordinary Zambian seriously impacted by the shambolic state of our health care system.

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The recent recall of drugs imported from India is but the tip of the malaise afflicting our moribund health system, where patients are daily dying from cancer for lack of a radiation machine while the Ministry engages in the construction of more hospitals.

This does not make any sense, but nothing does considering the politicisation of the health sector where the loss of life is simply collateral to political gains.

In a normal functioning health system, the recall of drugs should have been accompanied by a full audit of regularity of purchase but most important a thorough study of the effects that the offending molecules may have caused on patients who ingested them.

In our case, this does not matter.

 Government is clearly not coping with the pitiable shadow of what used to be a robust system aspiring and striving for more efficient levels of service delivery. Now even the most rudimentary of services including procurement of medicines and medical supplies is a struggle.

We say so because of the shambolic manner in which these important health requirements are being handled, leading to the recalls and subsequently under stocking in government health institutions. Considering the long delay in the procurement of replacement drugs. Understocking will therefore persist, with some health facilities having no medicines at all.

The unraveling of the medical supply chain has clearly been laid bare.  This is an indictment of the ministry of Health and just how ill-prepared government is in as far as procurement of medical supplies and medicines are concerned.

At this rate, we could rightly conclude that there is no definitive system to provide any form of rigor, let alone regularity and due diligence of the medical supplies brought in the country.

Otherwise how does the ministry of Health explain the importation of medicines and medical supplies which do not meet WHO standards? 

The medicines and allied substances manufactured by Glumex Pharmaceutical MFG of India have been recalled from the Zambian market through advertisements in the print media.

According to a notice in the local media, Pharma Plus Limited writes, “We wish to notify our clients that Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) has directed us to recall all medical products manufactured by the above  mentioned company in India, due to non-compliance with W.H.O current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) guidelines.”

The procurement system is well known or should be well known to the technocrats and should be followed when procuring medicines and other allied substances. 

There should be no room for short-cuts, for in there lies danger for the millions of Zambians relying on government health institutions for treatment.

Public life should be treated with care and not this willy-nilly conduct that has become characteristic of the Ministry of Health where everything goes. 

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