Health experts have urged government to ensure that newly-trained health personnel join the profession with a firm resolve to fight against the pilferage of drugs and other medical supplies in hospitals.
The Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) and the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi (NMCM) said this yesterday in reaction to a warning Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi issued against the pilferage to 757 health professionals who received diplomas and certificates in Lilongwe on Friday after graduating in 23 courses and programmes offered by the Malawi College of Health Sciences.
NMCM director Dorothy Ngoma argued that drug theft cannot end if government does not scale up the fight against pilferage because some top government officials are allegedly masterminding the malpractice.
She said: “Drug theft is an issue which began way back but it is getting worse because of the corrupt government system. Because corruption begins with the top-most officials, there is no one to stop others from stealing drugs.”
On his part, Mhen executive director George Jobe argued that drug theft incidents were high in the country because they are done at different levels from hospital wards to pharmacies and during the procurement process.
He said: “Students should be taught ethical issues so that they know that stealing drugs and other medical supplies is unprofessional.”
In an interview after the graduation, Muluzi said government will not tolerate the stealing drugs and other medical equipment, warning that it will punish all those indulging in the malpractice.
“Recruiting health workers is one of the priorities of government to ensure that there are sufficient personnel in the health sector to provide services in public hospitals.
“We will not tolerate any incidents of drug theft. We are taking the decision seriously on the issue of drug pilferage which also involves theft,” Muluzi said.
Records indicate that there is a need to recruit 20 000 health workers across the country but government has so far recruited only 5 000 to reduce the gap. n