By Patience Lunda:
A number of public hospitals have run out of essential drugs and equipment, putting patients’ lives at risk, The Daily Times has learnt.
Some of the essential drugs and medical suppliers missing in some district hospitals include Diazepam, Dental Lignocaine, Dextrose, Salbutamol, Thiopental and insulin syringes used for the treatment of patients with low blood pressure, convulsions, asthma attacks and during surgery.
At Nkhata Bay District Hospital, for example, the shortage of drugs has led to unnecessary referrals to Mzuzu Central Hospital.
“For the whole year, we haven’t been supplied with 100 percent of our drug requests and this is resulting in unnecessary referrals to central hospitals,” said Mwatikonda Mbendera, Nkhata Bay District Director of Health and Social Services.
The situation is not different in Karonga District.
Karonga District Director of Health and Social Services David Sibale said, whenever necessary, they have been checking with other facilities when they need drugs that are not in stock.
“We keep on following up with [Central] Medical Stores [Trust] until stocks arrive. At times, we check in other facilities and districts if necessarily,” he said.
While acknowledging that Central Medical Stores Trust—a major supplier of medicines and medical supplies to government hospitals— sometimes runs out of supplies, Kamuzu Central Hospital Director Jonathan Ngoma said, at times, the hospital buys medicines privately to ensure the continued availability of essential drugs.
CMST spokesperson Herbert Chandilanga asked for more time before he could respond to the matter.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe has said they, too, are waiting for an explanation from CMST on why it has not been supplying essential drugs.
Chikumbe further said the ministry was exploring means of helping facilities that have been hit by the problem of drug shortage by, among other things, reverting to the system under which hospitals can procure medicines from private pharmacies as they wait for CMST.
“We are aware that we have a shortage of medicines in several public facilities and we are supposed to procure these medicines through the Central Medical Stores Trust but we are also waiting for an explanation from them to know what the problem is,” he said.