The Ministry of Health wishes to respond to the article entitled “ARV thieves find plum market as Zimbabwe collapses”, which appeared in the 3rd August 2008 edition of the Sunday Standard.
The Ministry of Health is neither aware of any reports from World Health Organization about illegal ARVs from Botswana to Zimbabwe nor has it experienced any incidences of theft of ARV drugs recently. The only case involving ARV drugs at Central Medical Stores that we are aware of is that of the year 2007, in which four employees were implicated and are currently being tried for the offence.
Measures which the former Minister of Health promised Parliament to be employed in a bid to step up security at Central Medical Stores are in place and there has not been any breach of security after the introduction of these crime barriers. Central Medical Stores has installed CCTV Security System, flood lights and access control system.
However, strategies geared at fully automating to eliminate any potential security hazards are being undertaken as an integrated approach targeted at all public health facilities across the country. This has so far proved to be a very effective deterrent and, therefore, if the allegations in the Sunday Standard newspaper, that ARV drugs from Botswana are stolen and resold in Zimbabwe have some truth in them, it is very unlikely that those drugs are stolen directly from the Central Medical Stores.
Lastly, we are very concerned about allegations such as these ones and therefore, we would like to challenge the Sunday Standard to assist us with the information that can lead somewhere in our investigations to get to the bottom of this case.
(Principal Public Relations Officer)