The Pan African Civic Educators Network (Pacenet) has said routine audits on medical equipment and drugs by village health committees and Transparency and Accountability Clubs (TACs) could prevent drug and equipment pilferage in public hospitals.
Pacenet executive director Steven Duwa, made the remarks in Liwonde as he commented on revelations by the Weekend Nation that some health workers in the border districts of Malawi steal and then sell medical drugs and equipment to private hospitals and pharmacies both within and outside the country.
With funding from National Democratic Institute for Foreign Affairs (NDI), Pacenet in conjunction with Young Politicians Union (YPU) are training community-based organisations (CBOs), TACs and youth clubs from Balaka and Machinga in various issues, including how to track projects under Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and Local Development Fund (LDF).
Duwa said drug pilferage continues to contribute to drug stockouts and shortages in most health centres, thereby putting lives of poor Malawians at risk.
He wondered why village health committees (VHCs) and TACs are not taking keen interest in monitoring supply and conduct routine audits to ensure drugs are put to their intended use.
“I have always held the notion that the culpable health workers are simply taking advantage of Malawians’ inability to question when things go wrong. In fact, some of us here could be friends to these friends; hence, we fail to take action. Otherwise, it couldn’t have to take reporters to blow the whistle on drug pilferage and sale by health workers that live in our vicinities,” he said.
Duwa expressed doubt that health workers could have courage to steal from a health centre whose VHC and TAC are vibrant.
“I, therefore, wish to challenge you to rise up and guard against theft of public resources, including in hospitals and schools, among others. Every civil servant suspected to be involved in theft of government property must be reported,” he stressed.