Juba — An internal report obtained by Sudan Tribune has found that the majority of health facilities in South Sudan lack essential medicines.
The report, which looked at the distribution of medicines and medical supplies, discovered expired medicines at Juba's central medical warehouse and state pharmacies worth over SSP 8 million.
A senior government source at the ministry of health said the national strategic plan of the ministry requires that there should be at least an 80 percent availability of essential medicines at each health facility anywhere in the country.
"There is [a] ceiling percent which medicines should not exceed. This is where an order should be placed at any level or regardless of the status of the facility. It is a requirement in the national strategic plan that a request for replenishment of essential medical supplies should be made before the stock level reaches 80% of the current stock", a source who declined to be named said in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
However, results of the report, released on 22 February, shows the availability of essential medicines in most facilities visited by health management teams did not meet the required level.
The report further revealed that health centres visited were also operating below the standards prescribed by the national strategic plan.
The survey shows most of the health facilities visited had no stocks of the Frusemide injection, a medicine used in the treatment of heart failure, hypertension and kidney failure, as well as for patients suffering excess body fluids.
Similarly, 80 percent of health facilities had no stocks of oral rehydration salts, 78 percent had no stocks of malaria test kits, 84 percent had no stocks of the anti-malarial Coaterm and 90 percent had no stocks of adrenaline, an emergency medicine used to treat patients who have collapsed or suffering from shock.
The report also revealed that the ministry of health had accepted the findings and stated that it had instituted measures to mitigate the problem by improving funding for the procurement of medicines and health centre kits.
The report found that overstocking of medicines at the central warehouse occurred because those responsible either did not receive the requests for issue, transport and distribution of medicines to places of need or as a result of poor inventory processes.
It observed that overstocking of medicines could potentially lead to wastage and shortages, with medicines remaining unused after their expiry date, leaving other facilities without enough stocks.
It revealed stocks of expired medicines from as far back as 2010 were still being held in the store.
"A review of records at the medical central warehouse revealed that medicines and medical supplies worth an estimated sum of SSP 80 million had expired in 2009 and that supplies costing SSP 368,169,138 expired in 2010. Nine of the state-based stores visited had had expired medicines as of July 2008," the report said.
"The listing of expired medicines included medicines which had expired from as far back as 2008. It is therefore evident that the ministry of health had not put measures in place to monitor and ensure that the expired medicines are disposed of", it added.
The report quoted officials as saying the ministry was attributing to the wastage by accepting large quantities of donated medicines not included in treatment protocols, leading to drug holding and subsequent expiration.
It also observed that laboratory products, especially reagents, which have a short shelf life, were delivered even though they were close to their expiry date and in quantities that were unlikely to be consumed by health facilities before they expired.