Minister of Health Peter Kumpalume on Wednesday told Parliament that public hospitals have nearly exhausted most of their drug budgets, a move that could worsen the drug situation in public hospitals.
Speaking in Parliament, which is meeting for the Mid-year Budget Review in Lilongwe, Kumpalume said most district hospitals may not stock drugs and supplies as district health offices (DHOs) used up more than half of their funding for drugs six months before the next budget.
For example, he said, Ntcheu DHO has used 87 percent of the funding; Dedza 80 percent, Mulanje 71 percent, Thyolo 82 percent and Karonga 80 percent of its drug budget.
Kumpalume’s statement was on the status of medicines and patients’ food in hospitals following several queries from members of Parliament (MPs) and Malawians on drug shortages being experienced in the hospitals.
He said at central hospitals, the majority of shortages relate to broad range antibiotics, less powerful antibiotics and even anti-malarial tablets.
“Lately, we also experienced a shortage of analgesics [paracetamol etc], but this was due to non-delivery of the supply by a local manufacturer. Corrective measures have been taken and two other local companies will take over the allocation,” Kumpalume said.
But when queried by several MPs, including Lilongwe City Centre legislator (Independent) David Bisnowaty, who owns Sadm Pharmaceuticals, to name and shame the suppliers who failed to deliver, Kumpalume declined.
He, however, put the stock availability at Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) at 30 percent between July and December, explaining that the ministry looked at whether for that specific item the volumes was enough to cover one month’s supply.
“Even though CMST reports 60 percent stock of must-have drugs, this figure is based on whether that item is available irrespective of whether the volume is sufficient or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kumpalume said CMST is yet to honour orders for most public hospitals.
In the 2015/16 budget, Parliament approved drug budget allocations for district hospitals at K10 billion and K5.6 billion for central hospitals.