Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe has blocked release of expired drugs scheduled for disposal in an apparent show of alertness against moving its drugs elsewhere without proper procedures.
KCH management turned back a vehicle from a Catholic Church-owned St. Gabriel Hospital from collecting the expired drugs set to be incinerated.
The fact that the transaction was formal and backed by a letter from a senior official in the Ministry of Health (MoH) did not stop the KCH management from barring the exercise.
KCH management later explained that it put its foot down because the ideal conditions for moving such sensitive drugs and medical supplies were not in place.
“When disposing of drugs there are supposed to be officials from the Anti-Corruption Bureau [ACB], the Malawi Police Service [MPS], the Ministry of Health and even the Ministry of Finance to ascertain quantities.
“This is because drugs are government property. We were suspicious because we did not see such a large presence of witnesses, to begin with,” said KCH administrator Jonathan Ngoma in an interview.
He said he took the barring action despite the fact that the exercise was affirmed through a letter dated January 29 this year from MoH acting director for Health Technical Support Services Dr. Ben Chilima, indicating that the KCH expired drugs were to be collected and incinerated at the large incinerator at St. Gabriel Hospital.
Mchinji DHO Juliana Kanyengambeta and Lilongwe DHO Alinafe Mbewe confirmed knowledge of the arrangement of disposing of the expired drugs but they added that officials from St. Gabriel Hospital had not yet been to their facilities to collect the said drugs.
Chilima said in an interview some procedures were inadvertently not followed in the process while the involvement of St. Gabriel was due to the donors’ advice and reasoning that expired drugs have a risk factor and they cannot be exposed and disposed of anyhow.
The development comes at a time when some expired drugs, including anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) that prolong lives of people with HIV and Aids have found their way into the hands of unscrupulous vendors who are selling them to unsuspecting Malawians.