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Probe uncovers rot in medical drugs procurement and distribution 

By Ntombi Mhlongo
The challenges faced by the local health sectors regarding the acquisition and distribution of medical drugs are seemingly deeper than one would have thought.

This is based on the fact that the Audit of Acquisition and Distribution of Medicines to Public Health Facilities conducted by the Office of Auditor General Timothy Simelane has uncovered a lot of rot.

The report of the probe was tabled by the Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg. One of the findings is that there have been medicines that have been out of stock for a very long time in the 29 facilities which were visited.

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This is even though there was an increase in the expenditure of E345 146 048.92 in 2021 to E1 035 147 109.43 in 2022. Further, the report states there was obsolete stock of medicine worth E18 291 701.96 for the financial years March 31, 2019, and March 31, 2021.

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A recommendation contained in the report by the AG is that a forensic audit should be conducted to ascertain misappropriated medical stock. Another finding contained in the report is unaccounted-for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

The AG said the probe observed that there was missing stock of medicines and or unaccounted-for pharmaceuticals amounting to E18 793 823.99 in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2022.

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Also, the audit unveiled that there was missing stock of medical drugs amounting to E5 848 589.89 in the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2022.

As a recommendation, the AG said the Ministry of Health should investigate the missing stock and unaccounted-for medicines to recover and report any unrecovered stock to the Losses Committee and the Ministry of Finance.

Another recommendation is that the ministry should have a system that monitors the medicines from ordering, receiving, stores until the dispensary to patients.

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