As most district hospitals in Malawi continue to be in serious drug shortages, police have arrested an officer at Dedza District Hospital in central Malawi for being found in possession of drugs suspected to have been stolen.
Nelson Chisale, a patient attendant at the hospital, was arrested by guards when he attempted to walk out of the hospital with a bag containing 21 bottles of erythromycin, a strong anti-biotic drug.
Dedza Police spokesperson Edward Kabango on Wednesday said Chisale, 51, from Kafotokoza Village, Traditional Authority Kachere in the district, went to the hospital on Monday, around 5pm, carrying a bag.
Kabango said: “As he was coming out late in the evening, hospital guards noticed that the bag, which was empty as he entered the hospital, was full and they stopped him. The guards said he initially refused to be searched but the guards insisted.
“Apart from the 21 bottles of erythromycin, he was also found with rolls of cotton wool and bandages. He claimed he got some of the drugs elsewhere and some from the district hospital. He is on remand and he will appear in court soon.”
Police said medical experts were yet to determine the cost of the drugs and materials suspected to have been stolen.
A guardian at Dedza District Hospital said the drug shortage did not spare the hospital, with some patients being referred to private pharmacies where drugs are so expensive for ordinary people.
In January, doctors in Malawi complained in an open letter to President Joyce Banda and the people of Malawi that Malawians were dying needlessly due to serious drug shortages in public hospitals.
In reaction to the doctors’ concerns, government released K1.1 billion to allow central and district hospitals to pay debts and other related bills.