‘Expired drugs’ claim rejected…‘Zimbabwe values safety of citizens’

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Government has dismissed claims that the Ministry of Health and Child Care is dispensing expired drugs and assured Zimbabweans that the expired medication was being kept ahead of orderly disposal.

This follows reports by the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) and some sections of the media that some of the medication stocked at NatPharm was beyond expiry dates.

Acting President Constantino Chiwenga toured NatPharm on Thursday to see medicines stocked and ready to be delivered to health institutions.

In a statement yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Mr Nick Mangwana dismissed the reports, saying the country still values the safety of its citizens.

“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 medication is safely disposed of and not used irregularly,” said Mr Mangwana.

He said expired drugs in the country were below one percent, which was within the World Health Organisation (WHO) nationally acceptable loss of one percent.

“We’re aware that during the tour of NatPharm facilities by the Acting President on December 27, 2018, some members of the media photographed boxes of expired medication in the designated aisle, which may have been the basis of misrepresentation that expired drugs are being dispensed.

Mr Nick Mangwana

“We place on record and emphasise that expired medication is not for use by patients. However, expired drugs are normal to any health setting but have to be kept to a minimum,” he said.

He added that for the year 2017 and up to the third quarter of 2018, expired drugs in the country’s health system have constantly been below one percent of all commodities available.

He also explained the process of disposing of expired drugs, adding that expired medication can’t be disposed of without a formal process that involves instituting a Board of Survey to scrutinise 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 medication is only destroyed after Treasury has authorised such destruction through the issuance of a certificate of destruction.

“The destruction is witnessed by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in conjunction with Environmental Health Department in the Ministry of Health and Child Care and is also independently witnessed and documented,” said Mr Mangwana.

He added that the process takes between six and nine months and before destruction, the medication is kept on separate pallets in the same warehouse but different aisle with unexpired medication because of storage space limitations.

He urged members of the public to report to the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe should they suspect that they have been issued with medication of questionable quality. 

Source: The Chronicle

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