The department confirmed that two managers from the Mahikeng medical depot and another two based in the provincial offices were placed on precautionary suspension while investigations into allegations of mismanagement were conducted. “The investigation will cover the failure to disclose or report the existence of [a] storage room that houses expired medication at the depot,” the health department’s statement read.
Earlier this year the province’s health MEC Madoda Sambatha paid the Mahikeng medical depot an unannounced visit after allegations that the depot was dispensing expired medication were raised. The Department of Health’s rules prohibit the dispensing of expired medication, Sambatha emphasised. He urged patients to always check the expiry date of their medicine, and if it’s expired they must refuse it and report health workers to the department.
According to the statement, the investigations will also look into possible failure to put in place systems for managing pharmaceutical services, timely payments to service providers as well as failure to correct disparities in salaries of the depot staff despite staff members performing same responsibilities.
“The purpose of the suspension is to make sure that the presence of these managers doesn’t hinder the investigation, this is why they were suspended with immediate effect,” the department’s spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said.
A team of NGOs from the pharmaceutical industry were deployed by the inter-ministerial task team to help with the disposal of expired drugs and proper monitoring of stock levels. Last year April, cabinet placed the department under administration, invoking Section 100(1) of the Constitution, after months of protests across the province by healthcare workers and residents resulting in the widespread disruption of health care services.
Lekgethwane said: “A plan to improve delivery timelines and turnaround is in place. It involves direct deliveries of medication to hospitals while the medical depot will now deliver directly to clinics. Medicine availability in health facilities has increased substantially since the department had been put under administration.” – Health-e News.