Drug theft is costing government billions every year but authorities are failing to clamp down on the theft, the ministry of health says.
MacPhail Magwira, principal secretary in the Ministry of Health quoted a study carried out in 2013 which showed that a staggering MK7 billion (US$11 million) is lost due to drug theft.
Magwira was speaking at Bingu International Conventional Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe during the launch of two campaigns to fight drug theft in the country; The Global Fund campaign, ‘I Speak Out Now’ and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) campaign, ‘Make a Difference’ (MAD).
He said the ministry has since introduced several measures in order to curb the malpractice.
“We have a Unit on Drug theft investigation which comprises an officer from the Malawi Police, the ministry and auditors, these are the people who will be going out in all the health facilities to inspect and verify the availability of drugs in the health facilities,” said Magwira.
He added that other research results which are yet to be released, show that not much has been improved which means the trend is still going on.
U.S Ambassador to Malawi, Palmer said individuals in health facilities across the country are intentionally stealing huge quantities of drugs from clinics and selling them elsewhere, including across borders.
“They are doing this to profit personally, they are stealing from government of Malawi, they are stealing from U.S government and most seriously they are stealing from the people of this country who need these lifesaving drugs,” said the Ambassador.
To report stolen anti-malaria medicine, government and U.S government have established the toll-free hotline 800 00 847 for land lines, 847 for mobile phones or send an email to [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected].