'Public hospitals dispense expired ARVs'

HARARE - Several boxes of expired anti-retroviral drugs were dispensed to patients by public hospitals, compromising the health of patients, the Auditor General has reported.

In a recent audit report for the year ended December 31, 2014, the auditor general, Mildred Chiri, said hospitals were not equipped with proper systems to curb distribution of expired drugs.

“The Mutare General Hospital pharmacy received 100 boxes of 60 units of a drug called Alluvia 100mg/25mg on February 27, 2012 whose expiry date was March 31, 2012,” her report said.

“The drug was dispensed to the Family Health Department of the hospital on February 28, 2012 (10 boxes), April 4, 2012 (6 boxes) and May 8, 2012 (4 boxes) respectively. On May 8, the remaining 80 boxes of 60 boxes were declared no longer suitable for human treatment and hence were transferred to the expired drugs store, notwithstanding the fact that on two occasions the drug had been dispensed in their expired state.

“There was no evidence to support that the hospital pharmacy sought authority from Medical Laboratory and Clinical Council to distribute drugs that had passed their expiry date.”

In her recommendations, Chiri said the National Aids Council (Nac), which is responsible for the procurement of drugs on behalf of the hospitals, should put in place proper monitoring systems.

“Nac should also develop some mechanisms and systems to monitor some critical activities undertaken by implementing partners such as these hospital pharmacies,” she said.

Chiri also noted a flawed drug dispensing system at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

“The inventory management system did not generate drug expiry and aged analysis reports. The generation of expiry reports would help the hospital to monitor the expiry of drugs more effectively. The aged analysis reports would help in monitoring the slow moving items in order to come up with correct valuation of inventory.”

The report also showed that in August 2013, a total of 7 830 boxes of anti-retroviral drugs were unaccounted for.

“Nac procures drugs from suppliers and are received and distributed by NatPharm on behalf of the council,” Chiri’s report says.

“The NatPharm invoice indicated that the drugs were delivered but there was no documentary evidence in the hospital records to confirm that they were actually received.

“Drugs procured may have been diverted, hence prejudicing the bona fide beneficiaries so the hospital should consider investigating such issues and take appropriate action.”

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