Public hospitals run out of drugs

By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
25 July 2014

Parliament has heard that major public hospitals countrywide are facing acute shortages of life saving drugs, something which officials say has put the lives of thousands of patients in danger.

Deputy health minister Paul Chimedza told parliament last week that most hospitals countrywide were operating below 40 percent as the government was struggling to purchase the essential drugs due to a cash squeeze.

According to a NewsDay report most major hospitals confirmed the situation, with Parirenyatwa Hospital CEO Thomas Zigora saying the Harare-based institution was operating on a ‘hand to mouth basis.’ So desperate is the situation that some hospitals were prescribing even the most basic drugs for purchase at private institutions.

MDC-T Shadow Minister for Health, Dr. Ruth Labode, said the situation was worsened by ‘poor redistribution’ of drugs caused by lack of a ‘centralised monitoring system.’ She said: ‘You tend to find different drugs that have expired in different hospitals and in some cases you find that drugs would have expired because there was an oversupply and yet another hospital was in short supply of the same drugs.’

Dr. Labode said there were also delays in the supply of the donor funded drugs. She said: ‘There is a problem with the movement of these drugs; when you depend on donors they always buy when they are ready or when they have the money and by the time the drugs arrive here there is that gap where the hospitals would have run dry.’

In April National Pharmaceutical Company Managing Director, Florah Sifeku, revealed that government last bought drugs in 2008 during the Zim dollar era. Sifeku said 98 % of the medicines in public health institutions were supplied by donors and only 2%, mostly ARVs, by the National Aids Council.

Service delivery across the board has been severely affected as government is struggling to service all debts and fund key institutions due to a combination of financial problems, maladministration and corruption. The situation has been worsened by a decline in revenue collection as hundreds o f companies are closing due to bad government policies and prohibitive laws.

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