Mozambique: Health Ministry Working to Solve Shortage of Drugs

Maputo — Mozambican Health Minister Alexandre Manguele said in Maputo on Wednesday that his ministry is working to solve the country's shortage of medicines.

"We are solving this situation of the shortage of medicines that we had last year, and which our health units are still experiencing", he told AIM during a ceremony to inaugurate a re-equipped tuberculosis reference laboratory.

In today's edition of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the Central Medical Stores of the Health Ministry launched a public tender for the supply of essential medicines for the health units. Manguele did not tell AIM precisely which medicines the country needs, but said "it is no secret that the country is not in a comfortable position in terms of the availability of medicines".

"Last year we had to ask the public to accept us using medicines past their expiry date, because we didn't have other medicines", he added, explaining that this measure was only adopted after the medicines in question were tested in laboratories in Portugal, which showed that it was possible to extend their life for a further four months or more.

Manhuele said the government was trying to overcome this deficit, and the situation is now improving. "Last year we did not have HIV tests in the desirable quantities, but now we are acquiring them", he said. "We now have tuberculosis and anti-retroviral drugs, and thus we are solving the crisis".

As for the repeated scandal of unqualified people impersonating doctors, Manguele urged all health workers to be on the lookout against "false doctors" infiltrating the hospitals.

This appeal follows the detention last week of one such impersonator in Beira Central Hospital. 26 year old Siaca Madeira Ludia donned a white uniform and passed himself off as a doctor in the hospital for two years, even undertaking small scale surgery.

Manguele said he found it hard to understand how a phony doctor could roam around a hospital for two years without being detected. "The situation in Beira is lamentable", he stressed. "Health professionals must pay attention to who is circulating within the hospital. Fighting against these situations requires vigilance by health professionals".

He added that the question of the security of hospitals and of patients will be discussed at a forthcoming meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Health Ministry.

The Minister added that at least Ludia had not tried to undertake any major operations. "He did some little things that anyone can do at home, such as treating a pimple on the hand, but he couldn't do surgery or operate major pieces of machinery", he said.

Ludia attended a health training course, but was thrown off the course because the instructors considered he had no vocation for this profession. Nonetheless he remained linked to the sector, was a regular blood donor, and attended parties given by his former colleagues at the training school.

He told journalists that he was practicising medicine illegally because he liked the job and believed it was his vocation.

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