The Ministry of Health (MoH) has said inadequate drug storage facilities contribute to maternal deaths as women receive low quality drugs after giving birth.
MoH chief of health services Charles Mwansambo said this in an interview in Lilongwe during a dissemination workshop by University of Malawi’s College of Medicine (CoM) on quality, availability and knowledge of rational use and storage requirements of oxytocin in Malawi.
Oxytocin is a drug that is used to control excessive bleeding in women after giving birth.
Mwansambo said due to inadequate storage facilities, some women who have just given birth are at risk of receiving drugs which have lost value because of poor storage.
He said: “As government, we know that storage of our drugs is a challenge. If we do not store the drug in required conditions, the result is that the drugs will be affected. The drugs we are talking about here help control excessive bleeding in women who have just given birth, so if they administered drugs with less value we all know what the result is. Suffice to say that, we are working hard to address the situation by putting together our storage space in the facilities with help from development partners.”
According to Mwansambo, the ministry, with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), Germany and the Global Fund, is building pharmacies-in-a-box so that drugs are stored in good conditions.
“So, soon the shortage of space will be a thing of the past,” he said.
CoM carried out the study to investigate storage requirements, monitor temperatures and rational use of oxytocins.
The study was looking at the availability and quality of drugs stocked for post-delivery bleeding in public, private and Cham hospitals and health centres, public and private wholesalers and private pharmacies.
According to CoM senior lecturer Felix Khuluza they carried the study in 55 health facilities in Blantyre (urban), Chikwawa (hot, rural), Neno (rural) and Ntcheu (pilot study, rural).
“Most of the hospitals, more especially health centres, don’t have necessary storage facilities for postpartum hemorrhage for maternal health to store oxytocin. As a result, the medicines are kept on normal temperature which affects the quality. So this will not help government achieve its goal of reducing maternal mortality because many women die due to heavy bleeding,” he said.
According to the study, from 37 sampled facilities, only eight stored oxytocin in refrigerators, 16 facilities stored the drug at ambient temperatures, seven stored it both in refrigerator and at ambient temperature, while six did not stock oxytocin. Chikwawa and Neno are said to have the worst storage facilities.