USD1million donor medical supplies pilferage saga deepens with 7 nabbed

Investigation of Global Fund grants to Zambia revealed gross theft and mismanagement of antiretroviral’ s – ARVs, ACTs, HIV and malaria test kits from government’s distributor of health products, Medical Stores Limited – MSL. The Global Fund is a very strategic partner for the government in public health investments to end epidemics in HIV/AIDs, TB and Malaria.

The investigation report carried out by the office of the Inspector General – OIG revealed significant unexplained stock losses of Global Fund-financed pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical health products. These have been valued at US$1.06 million and were delivered to MSL between the years 2014 and 2016 (representing 3.2% of a total US$33.4mn of deliveries investigated).

The losses which were neither effectively investigated, nor reported to the Global Fund comprised:

Finding 1.

5,790 HIV test kits valued at US$416,379 (7.5% of total Global Fund-financed kits delivered between 2014 and 2016)

Finding 2.

67,967 bottles of ARVs valued at US$423,209 (2.6% of total Global Fund-financed ARVs delivered between 2014 and 2016)

Finding 3.

11,442 artemisinin-based combination therapy packs (ACTs) valued at US$214,486 (2.4% of total Global Fund-financed ACTs delivered between 2014 and 2016)

Finding 4.

2,521 malaria rapid diagnostic test kits (MRDTs) valued at US$10,714 (1.7% of total Global Fund-financed kits delivered between 2014 and 2016)

The report by Global Fund further revealed that internal controls systems at MSL were weak and ineffective and presented multiple opportunities for theft and misappropriation of assets.

Documented operating procedures including those requiring bi-annual stock takes and weekly counts of randomly selected locations were not followed. The investigation further revealed that MSL undertook only one stock count in each of the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 and no weekly stock counts were conducted. The gross mismanagement and lack of adherence to controls is appalling, stated Global Fund.

The Global Fund Secretariat and the OIG agreed on the following actions:

Recovering an appropriate amount from Zambia’s Ministry of Health with the proposed recoverable amount being the entire US$1.06mn.

MSL’s implementation of all stock count control procedures.

MSL, through the Ministry of Health, reporting to the Global Fund any negative stock variances and the results of investigations into identified variances.

In a press briefing statement issued by the Minister of Health Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, on 10th May 2018 made available to Zambian Business Times (ZBT) revealed that seven suspects have been apprehended, some of whom were employees of MSL.

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