Drug theft in public health facilities in Chikwawa District is said to be escalating, a development that has compelled communities to plead for intervention from relevant authorities.
While confirming the reports of drug theft, the district health office has underplayed the claims, saying unless evidence is produced it would be hard to ascertain the truth.
During a meeting jointly organised by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) last week, communities alleged that almost all health facilities, including the district hospital do not have essential drugs due to theft.
“Every time patients visit these health centres, they are told that there are no drugs. The same drugs are being sold in the villages. Actually, vendors have now begun selling us drugs right in our homes,” claimed Lastone Chikuni from Group Village Head Mkwana in Traditional Authority (T/A) Maseya.
Citing Bereu Health Centre as the worst hit, Chikwawa District Council chairperson Collex Nankumba said police need to quickly intervene “otherwise this relentless theft of drugs is hitting hard already deprived rural citizens”.
The councillor for Bwabwali Ward in Chikwawa Central Constituency also alleged that medical personnel in the facilities demand cash from patients or guardians to acquire the “best services and drugs”.
But responding to the issues, Chikwawa District Hospital health services administrator Moses Jere said they have heard “rumours” that workers were stealing drugs, but people have not provided evidence to substantiate the claims.
CCJP community facilitator Stephano Mtelera said they would keep monitoring the drug situation in the health facilities.n