Malawi Government Losing Billions Over Drug Thefts

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Malawi flag

The Government of the Republic of Malawi has disclosed that it loses about US$ 11 million (over MK7 billion) per year through theft of drugs, the local media has reported.
Principal Secretary, in the Ministry of Health, (PS) Dr. MacPhail Magwira’s study carried out in 2013 has reportedly arrived at that figure.
Speaking at Bingu International Conventional Centre (BICC) in Malawi’s Capital City, Lilongwe during the launch of two campaigns to fight drug theft in the country; the PS had this to say, ‘I Speak Out Now’ and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) campaign, ‘Make a Difference’ (MAD).
“We have put a number of measures in place, we have a Unit on Drug theft investigation which comprises with officer from the Malawi Police, the ministry and auditors, these are the people who will be going out in all the health facilities to inspect and verify the availability of drugs in the health facilities,” said Magwira.
U.S Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer said when lifesaving drugs are stolen and not available to sick people who need them, people die, people are unable to support their families or fulfill their work obligations and Malawi becomes not only less healthy but less productive.
“Theft of medicines, just like the theft of property is a crime. So we’ve done what you do in response to a crime … we’ve called in the police and they are responding,” Palmer said, adding, in response to the theft of lifesaving malaria and other medicines we are launching these campaigns.
She said these campaigns encourage Malawians to report suspected theft or illegal storage or sale of medicines and other health commodities by telephone or email.
Palmer said other individuals in health facilities across the country are intentionally stealing huge quantities of drugs from clinics and selling them elsewhere, including across borders.
“They are doing this to profit personally, they are stealing from government of Malawi, they are stealing from U.S government and most seriously they are stealing from the people of this country who need these lifesaving drugs,” said the Ambassador.
To report stolen anti-malaria medicine, government and U.S government have established the toll-free hotline 800 00 847 for land lines, 847 for mobile phones or send an email to inspeakoutnow@theglobalfund.org, madmalariahotline@usaid.gov and reportsqm@tip-oofs.com.Mana