Malawi has expressed worry over minimal punishments given to those found guilty of stealing drugs in the country’s health facilities.
Minister of Health Catherine Gotani Hara registered the concern in Zomba on Tuesday during World Vision Malawi (WVM) national launch of Child Health Now Campaign at Chingale Primary School ground in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mlumbe.
The advocacy campaign is aimed at ending preventable deaths of mothers and children as part of a global effort to accelerate the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) number four and five by 2015.
Said Hara: “The Government of Malawi is committed to ensuring that there is improved management of supply chain to curb shortage of essential medicines in all health facilities.
“However, it is saddening to note that some staffs in hospitals are stealing drugs that could have assisted in curing our brothers and sisters from various diseases. Worse still, such offenders are given minimal punishments which cannot make them change their behaviour.”
The minister, therefore, disclosed that her office will ask the ministry of justice to review some of its policies so that those found guilty of stealing the medical drugs face stiffer punishments.
In his remarks, WVM national director Marko Ngwenya said his organization acknowledges the strong leadership shown by government in improving maternal, newborn and child health in the country.
“But despite the progress we have made, more than one in 10 children in Malawi still die before they reach the age of five, the majority of them from preventable causes such as birth complications, newborn infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria and malnutrition,” he said.
He added that about 1 000 women die each year during pregnancy or child birth, many of them while seeking care in health facilities.