Chiefs and civil society organisations (CSOs) in Balaka have bemoaned the reported theft of medical drugs at the district’s hospital, saying the development will affect the poor.
The concerns follow reports that the hospital’s pharmacist was allegedly found with suspected stolen medical drugs on March 22 this year.
In an interview, Traditional Authority Nsamala said poor people are told to buy the drugs at private pharmacies.
“We cannot tolerate theft of medicines. Why should people buy the drugs when they pay tax?” he said.
Balaka District Hospital advisory committee chairperson Ronald Mphepo said it was sad that people trusted to safeguard public medicines were in the forefront stealing them.
The district’s CSO network chairperson John Bamusi said he was disappointed with allegations of drug thefts at the hospital and alleged cover-ups.
“Strangely, the matter was reported immediately, but police only acted two days later,” he said.
In a separate interview, Balaka District director of health and social services Eugene Katenga-Kaunda said one of the guards allegedly found the pharmacist-in-charge in possession of medicines at the carpark without authorisation.
“The incident happened on March 22 this year, but I referred it to police on March 24 because we had to ascertain if there was authorisation to move the drugs out of the pharmacy,” he said.
Balaka Police Station drug section officer Bernard Chidelu said they opened two cases of theft by public servant contrary to Section 286(1) of the Penal Code and theft of medicines/allied substances under Pharmacy, Medicine Regulatory Authority Act 9 of 2019 for the suspect.