Friday, September 25, 2020

Investigations reveal health ministry’s multi million pula rot

While scores of patients at government hospitals were being sent home without medication prescribed by doctors due to lack of medical supplies, the Central Medical Stores this week dumped more than P20 million worth of expired medical supplies and has set aside an additional P12 million worth of stock which may also be destroyed because of poor management.

Investigations by Boehringer Ingelheim, a German medical consultancy firm engaged by the Ministry of Health to carry out the re-engineering of the Central Medical Stores, turned up information suggesting that scores of patients are being told that there is no medicine while the supplies they need are rotting on the shelves at the Central Medical Stores.

A report compiled by the team of German Consultants earlier this year, a copy of which has been passed to the The Sunday Standard, revealed that the Central Medical Store has hundreds of thousands of units of stock which can not be accounted for and are shown on the inventory register as “no stock.”

“From our analysis of the current stock listing, we have seen huge anomalies sitting in areas like NS or No stock area that are unaccounted for due to the confusion across all departments as to what the units of issue/sale are. This area currently contains 6188 lines of stock or 1,878, 959 units. Although many of these quantities could be the result of systems capture errors, many go back as far as 2003 which indicates that there is no apparent process to investigate these anomalies. There is no trigger in the system that highlights the discrepancies or raise awareness ÔÇô stock control is supposed to be checking on this. It is doubtful if the competence and knowledge exists in-house.”

The investigation by Boehringer Ingelheim Consultants further found that “stock description on the master file is wrong ÔÇô units of measure are also not indicated ÔÇô strengths and quantities of tablets are not indicated on the counting sheets; names of products and codes are unknown; only 10 percent of the stock has a PULSE label on it ÔÇôi.e. not all received stock is captured in the system. Labels are stuck on one box per pallet, once that box is issued, the identity of the remaining product is missing. There is no apparent knowledge of batch and expiry date management; the batch numbers and expiry dates reflected on receiving labels do not match actual products in the box.”

The German consultants also turned up stock that is well dated but mixed up with expired stock that is “lying in all areas within the facility. Expired stock was found in mixed boxes of rubbish, in bulk, in pick and storage locations. Currently, there is P 21, 058,619. 79 in the expired stock area.”

Some of the medical supplies have been stored in facilities that are not suitable for storage, and although still within the “use-by-date”, would have to be tested first to ensure that they do not expose users to health risks.

Noted the report, “The outside facilities are not suitable for the storage of items. There is roughly 12 million Pula sitting across these three facilities. Items are dirty and full of animal bi-products.

Most of the stocks stored in these locations are gloves and condoms. Both these latex based items would need to be stored below 25 degrees to ensure the integrity of the product. Evidence of high temperature is evident ÔÇô the insulation in the roof is badly disintegrated. We were led to believe that these items have been stored in these locations for over a year. Testing would need to be carried out to ensure that the products are still in saleable condition.”

The Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Health, Colombia Boitshoko, told the The Sunday Standard that he could not discuss details of the Boehringer Ingelheim report because it is still a confidential government report which has not been made public. (READ INDEPTH FOR DETAILS)

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