10 May 2018

Zambia: $1m Drugs, Kits Stolen ... Major Partner Global Fund Demands Value of Stolen Medicines, Equipment From Ministry of Health

Photo: Pixabay
Stethoscope (file photo).

The Global Fund has directed that the ministry of Health pays back around US$1million worth of drugs lost through suspected pilferage at the Medical Stores Limited (MSL).

In 2016 and 2017, health products worth about US$1 million went missing from the MSL in suspected drug pilferage.

Following the conclusion of its investigations into the suspected theft of drugs, the Fund has resolved to recover the money from the ministry of Health, the principle recipient of the support.

The Fund will also review the implementing procedures regarding its partnership with MSL after investigations uncovered glaring anomalies.

The review of the implementation of the procedures articulated in MSL's standard operating procedure relating to stock count control will be done by February next year.

The Government has also made changes to the supply-chain procedures at MSL in order to address the alleged drug pilferage of medicine provided by the Global Fund.

Authorities are currently prosecuting the matter, while the Global Fund has written to Government to reimburse the funds reported missing.

This is according to the latest investigative report released by the Global Fund office of the Inspector General.

According to the report, released on April 28, this year, it was reported that in October 2016 and in April 2017, health kits and other health products went missing from the MSL.

An investigation identified unexplained stock losses of Global Fund financed pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical health products worth $1,064,788.

While officers at MSL allegedly could not explain the missing stock, a non-governmental organisation was said to have bought some of the HIV test kits suspected to have been provided by the Global Fund.

"Since the issue came to light, MSL has changed the senior management and co-operated fully with the OIG investigation. The Global Fund secretariat provided financing for a multi-agency national task team,

which conducted a series of high-profile investigations and enforcement operations leading to arrests associated with organised cross border crime network targeting MSL," the report said.

An acting managing director has been in office since May 2017.

Other changes made are the establishment of a whistleblower policy, collaboration between MSL, the Drug Enforcement Commission and police as well as other measures to improve transparency.

The MSL trucks also carry a disclaimer urging the public to inform authorities of any wrong-doing.

The Global Fund has also resolved to recover any further amount that would be reported missing at the end of the rest of the investigation.

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