Malawi Government is still struggling to address the acute drug shortage at Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) with the recent procurement efforts only managing to reduce the drug stock-outs from 95 percent to about 80 percent, officials have said.
The 80 percent remaining drug stock-outs come at the time suppliers in the $1.657 million (about K650 million) emergency drug tender are yet to deliver about 20 percent of the drugs after the delivery deadline elapsed three weeks ago.
Speaking at a press conference in Lilongwe on Monday, CMST director of pharmaceutical operations Dr. Moses Chisale said the trust is making several efforts to increase drug stocks in its warehouses.
“Recently, there were reports of 95 percent drug shortage at Central Medical Stores Trust. The situation is still very critical, but we are sure that it will improve,” said Chisale.
He said the 80 percent shortage in the trust’s warehouses has affected a wide range of drugs including anti-malaria drugs and insulin for diabetes.
Two weeks ago, our sister paper, Weekend Nation, revealed that six of the seven companies awarded contracts in the controversial emergency procurement tender for malaria, cholera and diabetes drugs failed to deliver on schedule.
Chisale said they have so far received 80 percent of the drugs in the tender, adding the trust has cancelled contracts for some of the suppliers who have delayed their deliveries. He refused to name the companies.
He said three of the suppliers who have delayed their deliveries have submitted evidence that their supplies are in transit while the other three will have their contracts offered to the next highest bidders.
Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara said President Joyce Banda and Ministry of Health officials have let CMST to work independently and did not interfere with the process of awarding contracts in the emergency tender.
However, CMST chief executive officer Feston Kaupa said the 80 percent drug shortage in CMST warehouses does not translate into similar level of drug shortage in hospitals because there are also other drug supply initiatives like donations and donors’ medical kits programme.
UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) head of office Sarah Sanyahumbi said some of the drugs DfID has procured were expected in Malawi yesterday to further help improve the drug situation in central hospitals while other consignments will arrive later targeting central hospitals and all district health offices.