Mozambique: Ministry of Health to Spend U.S.$30 Million on Medicines

Maputo — Mozambique's Ministry of Health will spend 30 million US dollars on buying medicines following the severe shortage that hit the country last year.

This was disclosed on Monday by Health Minister Alexandre Manguele, who was speaking during his ministry's Coordinating Council meeting which is currently under way in Maputo, reports the daily newspaper "OPais".

The Minister said that there has been remarkable progress in the health sector, particularly in the reduction of infant and maternal mortality and the number of children under five years old who are underweight.

As for progress made last year, the Minister noted that the health sector managed to exceed targets established for institutional delivery as a result of joint efforts by health care workers and cooperation partners.

However, he acknowledged that there is still room for improvement. "It is not enough to have reports telling us that all targets were met and that all is well and under control. The sad reality is that child mortality remains high and maternal mortality continues to embarrass us. The prevalence of malaria and tuberculosis is still a cause for concern. Malnutrition continues to be the main cause of illness during childhood. Health is far from what we would like it to be in our country. It is through our effort, our intelligence and dedication that we will reverse this situation", stressed Manguele.

The decision to spend 30 million dollars on medicines comes in the context of the recent find of large quantities of expired medicines in a warehouse hired by the Ministry of Health in the southern city of Matola - with nobody able to explain who was responsible for allowing drugs worth millions of dollars to deteriorate in this way.

The medicines found in the warehouse included pain-killers (ibuprofen and paracetamol), oral rehydration salts, anti-malarial drugs (coartem), the antibiotics ampicillin and metronizadole, and anti-retroviral drugs.

Health units across the country have been complaining bitterly about shortages of medicines, yet here were box after box of medicines that had been allowed to lie in a warehouse until they passed their expiry dates. It was found that some of the medicines had expired five years ago.

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