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The Maputo City Health Directorate has closed down three private clinics which no longer meet the basic conditions for providing medical services in the capital.
The City Health Director, Alice de Abreu, announced the closures at a meeting held at Xipamanine market on Thursday to launch a campaign against the illicit sale of medicines. She said the closures resulted from inspections of these health units earlier in the year which detected “serious irregularities” including illicit purchases of medicines, and problems with the infrastructures and staff, included the prescription and sale of medicines by people who are not qualified.
“In private clinics we find medicines that are exclusively for the use of the National Health Service”, accused Abreu. “Then there are the conditions under which medicines are stored. We always said that medicines should be kept in a safe place and not exposed to sunlight or to humidity, in order to guarantee that they maintain their active components and can still treat and cure illnesses”.
“But we have found some places that do not meet these conditions”, she continued. “We found others where the person who hands the medicines to patients is not qualified to do so. That task can only be done by a pharmaceutical assistant who can explain how the medicine should be taken and can prescribe it properly”.
Abreu said that since January disciplinary and criminal proceedings have been opened against seven health workers who had diverted national health service medicines and other state-owned goods.
“Theft and diversion of medicines lead to a waste of resources and problems of the availability of drugs in the health service”, she added.
She did not say how many of the stolen medicines have been recovered, but guaranteed that it is a considerable amount. But, even if recovered, it is unclear if these medicines can ever be used again since, once outside of the control of health units, the quality of medicines deteriorates rapidly.
She regarded this as a serious public health problem. Citizens buy stolen medicines in markets, where the price may be attractive, but are unaware of the risks they run. For the medicines, exposed to all weathers, may have deteriorated or may be past their expiry date.
Hence the campaign she launched takes as its motto “Medicines sold in streets or markets are bad for your health – let’s not buy them!”
“We are aware that this work is difficult”, said Abreu. “But with everyone’s support, we can solve it, and we can eliminate the sale of medicines in improper places”.Source: AIM