Medical stores under fire for high service fees


The Central Medical Stores Trust (CMST) on Tuesday came under intense fire from Members of Parliament for charging the Ministry of Health high service fees when contracted to buy medicines and medical equipment.

Mzimba South West Member of Parliament Khumbo Kachali asked ministry officials, appearing before the joint Health and HIV and Aids Committee of Parliament, to justify why CMST charges 20 percent as service fee.

He said the 20 percent service fee, which in most cases translates into millions of kwacha, could be better used in some critical areas.


“The money used to buy the medicine or equipment is from the ministry. Why then should the Central Medical Stores charge that high service fee?” Kachali queried.

Chief Director in the ministry Charles Mwansambo said the fee is normally charged because CMST tests the medicine and equipment for quality.

“The equipment used needs some servicing. They also buy regents used in testing the medicine,” he said.


He, however, could not justify the high service fee, saying CMST officials were better placed to defend their decision.

Secretary to Treasury Ben Botolo, who was present during the cluster meeting, said he would engage CMST on the matter.

“We have taken note and we will engage them in different fora,” Botolo said.

Ministry of Health Director of Planning Emma Mabvumbe said, the ministry wants to buy CT scans for Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre and Mzuzu Central Hospital this year.

Further, the ministry will construct an ART clinic, an oncology ward and conduct major rehabilitation at QECH.

She also said construction of a one-stop centre for victims of gender-based violence, with support from Unicef, at Kamuzu Central Hospital is at an advanced stage while the site at Mulanje District Hospital was handed over.

She also said a board for the new orthopaedic centre has been approved and would be supported by the Haukland and Christian Blindhoffen Mission.

Mabvumbe told the parliamentarians that the malaria research, conference centre/library and office block at CHSU is now near completion.

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