Malawi now has a hotline through which people can anonymously tip off authorities about cases of theft of malaria drugs in a drive to curb pilferage which has dogged the public sector.
The hotlines 800 00 847 from land lines and 847 from mobile networks have been jointly launched by the United States of America (USA) government through United States Agency for International Development (USAid) and Global Fund alongside Malawi Government.
The lines are being used in the Global Fund campaign of ‘I Speak Out’ and USAid’s campaign of ‘Make a Difference (MAD)’ aimed at giving people an avenue for providing information to recover stolen malaria drugs.
During the launch in Lilongwe yesterday, US Ambassador Virginia Palmer said her government is concerned about increased diversion of malaria drugs in Malawi’s health sector and called for a stop to the practice.
She said: “As a leading donor of malaria treatment drugs in Malawi, the US government is extremely concerned about any diversion of donated medicines meant to be freely prescribed to the people of Malawi. Drug theft has to stop and the public needs to play a key role in identifying it, reporting it and holding the people responsible accountable. The ‘Make a Difference’ hotline is a new opportunity for the Malawian public to do just that.”
In his remarks, Ministry of Health (MoH) Principal Secretary Mc Phail Magwira said his office will spare no one caught diverting or stealing any drugs meant for public hospitals.
He said: “When the drugs get stolen, I am left with the responsibility to answer as to how that happened. So, if some people are going to be caught stealing drugs again, for the good of the general public, I am going to interdict them too.” n