The health care sector in Zimbabwe continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons. Earlier this month, news of the doctor’s strike in the country was largely publicized leading to the shocking revelation by protesting doctors that government-owned health institutions in the country lacked basic equipment and medical supplies.
According to them, the situation was so bad that doctors were forced to perform examinations on patients using condoms – which were freely available, in place of surgical gloves.
While that issue was yet to die down, a video was released on the internet showing a large consignment of drugs which were expired. The video was recorded as proof to an accusation that government-owned institutions in the country administered expired drugs to patients.
While the allegations that there were no medical supplies in the hospitals prompting doctors to use condoms in place of gloves were easily managed because there was no direct evidence to back the claims; that of the expired drugs took a different scale as the video indeed showed expired drugs in a warehouse.
The video sparked a lot of criticism and outrage, prompting the government to release a statement on the matter.
In a statement yesterday by the Zimbabwean government through the Secretary for Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting Services Mr. Nick Mangwana, the government dismissed the allegations saying that while they agree that the drugs were expired, the citizens must take into consideration the fact that there are laid down procedures for the disposal of expired drugs.
He said at no time were the expired drugs administered to patients.
Mr. Mangwana said in a statement published by The Herald that:
"Government has been made aware of footage on social media purporting to show that expired medical drugs are being dispensed for use by patients in the country.
"Government wishes to assure the Zimbabwean public that it takes the safety of its citizens and patients seriously and there are systems in place to ensure that expired medication is disposed of, and not used irregularly.
"Expired medication cannot be disposed of without a formal process that involves instituting a board of survey to scrutinize and verify the medicines targeted for destruction. The board goes through all the expired medicines, item by item, and provides the monetary value of such medication.
"The expired medicine is only destroyed after Treasury has authorized such destruction through the issuance of a Certificate of Destruction. The destruction is witnessed by the Environmental Management Agency in conjunction with the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health and Child Care and is also independently witnessed and documented.
"This whole process takes between six and nine months. Before destruction, the medication is kept in separate pallets in the same warehouse (but different aisle) with unexpired medication because of storage space limitations.
"Expiries are normal to any health setting but have to be kept to a minimum. For the year 2017 and up to the third quarter of 2018, expires in the country's public health systems have consistently been below one percent of commodities available.
"This is well within the WHO nationally acceptable loss of one percent.
"We place on record and emphasize that expired medication is not for use by patients.
"Should anyone suspect that they have been issued with expired medicines, they should contact the regulator, Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe."
Do you believe the government; what are your thoughts?
Header Image Credit: New York Post