Malawi’s Ministry of Health says stock levels have significantly increased in district and central hospitals thereby reducing the situation of drug shortages. However, some hospital sources Nation Online spoke to said hospitals still experience acute shortages, especially of antibiotics.
But in a response to a questionnaire, Ministry of Health spokesperson Henry Chimbali said the situation has significantly improved due to the support from government, some organisations and partners who have supported the ministry since the declaration of low stock levels.
Chimbali said: “We may not have all the drugs for all diseases at all times, what we strive for is to have many drugs for the most common conditions at all times and the rest of the diseases may have their drugs ordered on special cases.”
He said a team from the ministry inspected some districts in the Northern Region 10 days ago to appreciate the impact of the emergency drug kits project supported by their partners.
He said: “The situation is very impressive and the pharmacies are well stocked with drugs. We were satisfied with the situation. At the health centre level, we can say with conviction that drugs are available”
The ministry said, however, there was a need to strengthen security to prevent and control drug pilferages and misuse.
Chimbali explained that the 95 percent drug stock-out was at Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST), and not in hospitals and such, it did not translate into the levels of medicines in the public hospitals.
Minister of Health Catherine Gotani-Hara told journalists in Lilongwe in January that CMST had run out of 95 percent of the essential drugs.
This was after 15 medical doctors from Kamuzu Central Hospital raised the issue in an open letter to President Joyce Banda and the people of Malawi about the seriousness of the drug shortages, lamenting that Malawians were dying needlessly.