Malawi risks losing K114 billion ($203,571,429) funding for the fight against Malaria from the US government if wide-spread theft of drugs is not stopped.
Visiting US Global Coordinator on Presidential Malaria initiative (PMI) Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer and US Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer issued the warning at a press briefing in Lilongwe on Monday.
Palmer said corruption and theft of drugs are some of the several challenges undermining years of progress in the fight against malaria, particularly because resources available for the fight are insufficient.
She then suggested that the Ministry of Health should submit amendments to parliament on the Pharmacies, Medicines and Poisons board Act in order to stiffen penalties for theft of medicine.
Palmer also warned that Washington will be forced to cut funding if the situation is not controlled, urging Malawi to stop the malpractice by April 2016 or risk a drug stock-out of malaria treatment in the country.
“We need drug theft to stop, we need the public to play a role in identifying it, reporting it and holding the people responsible accountable,” she urged.
On his part, Admiral Ziemer said theft of drugs would jeopardize the gains Malawi has achieved, adding that the malpractice is pulling back efforts of the multibillion-dollar aid.
“As a leading donor of malaria treatment drugs and other supplies in Malawi, the US government is extremely concerned about any diversion of donated medicines” he said
Between 2006 and 2015, the US government Presidential Initiative on Malaria has contributed about K114 billion for the purchase of Malaria drugs, among other things.