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Mozambican Health Minister Nazira Abdula on Friday called on health professionals to work for the elimination of the theft of medicines from the national health service.
Speaking at the closing session of a meeting of the Coordinating Council of her Ministry, Abdula said the key to ending the thefts lay in closing down the informal markets where stolen medicines are sold.
“The elimination of the informal markets for the sale of medicines is the effective solution for ending the theft of medicines and all the consequences this has for public health”, she said.
Abdula pointed to the serious health risks involved in buying medicines on the informal market. The people selling the medicines are not trained pharmacists, the medicines are sold in the open, exposed to the elements, and they may well be past their expiry date, or even counterfeit.
The problem has been known for many years, yet the stolen medicines are sold under the noses of the police who very rarely raid the informal markets.
Abdula said that, in addition to outright theft, there are also cases where criminals pass themselves off as patients to acquire medicines in hospital pharmacies, which they then place on the informal market.
She admitted that the current strategies used to block the theft of medicines from health units have proved ineffective. However, she hoped that computerized management methods for handling medicines “will certainly reduce many of the problems we have been facing”.
Among the management problems, said Abdula, was the accumulation of medicines in some warehouses (where they run the risk of reaching their expiry date), while others have run out of the same medicines.
“We are also instructing our inspectors to improve their methods, and to anticipate the operations of criminals seeking to defraud the sector”, she added.
Abdula also insisted on preventive maintenance of hospital equipment. The provincial health directors and the national directorates must ensure “permanent monitoring” of maintenance, she said.Source: AIM
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