With drug theft showing no signs of abating, the Ministry of Health has revealed that over the past year drugs worth K1.5 billion were stolen in Malawi.
The ministry had a drug budget of K17.2 billion in the 2016/17 financial year but various people including ministry employees stole drugs worth K1.5 billion
Police managed to arrest 125 people for stealing drugs last year and 30 have since been convicted while 64 are still answering their charges.
Appearing before Budget and Finance Committee of Parliament last week, Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dr Dan Namarika said it will be difficult to end drug theft.
He however said his ministry is reviewing the Pharmacy, Medicines and Poisons Act to introduce stiff punishments against drug thieves since current penalties and sentences are not deterrent enough.
“They are stealing millions of kwacha then charging them K1 million does not deter them. There may be need to look at imprisonment or plea bargain as one way of reducing levels of drug losses,” said Namarika as quoted by the Nation.
As a way of dealing with drug theft, the Ministry of Health will use the national registration system to monitor drug use in hospitals by tracking citizens who have received drugs.
Malawians can also use the tip-offs hotline, 800 00 847 for land lines and 847 for mobile networks to alert authorities on drug theft.