By Diggers Editor
Revelations that government procured a toxic Chinese-manufactured drug and supplied it to hospitals across the country is enough scandal for someone in the system to, not only lose a job, but also face prosecution. This is a serious indication of complete incompetence and negligence of duty by a group of government leaders.
And to imagine that the Ministry in charge of public health could only realise that they were giving toxic medicine to patients after they started vomiting and wallowing in excruciating pain is just pure evil! This is government witchcraft, nothing else! Surely, someone must be made to pay for endangering the lives of citizens in this manner.
The Ministry of Health cannot hide behind a finger and say they have initiated efforts to recall the drug from all hospitals across the country. This is not a scandal that can be resolved by such a remedial measure. If this scandal involved any private hospital in Zambia, their operating licence was going to be revoked!
We have not forgotten that this same government, through the Health Professions Council, shut down Fairview Hospital in Lusaka, among other private health facilities, for “stocking and dispensing expired drugs.” How is that offence any different from the one committed by the Ministry of Health on such a large scale? People should have shame when practising hypocrisy. Being in government doesn’t give you any licence to kill.
We have noted that the Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia is blaming the supplier for delivering drugs, which did not match with the samples presented at the time of bidding, but that doesn’t hold water. Mr Jerome Kanyika says: “What happens when someone is bringing their samples to be registered in this country, they bring the best of their samples. But in the long-run, as they win tenders or contracts, they change and bring a tablet that does not consist the amount of drugs that they talked about when registering.”
We have a huge problem with that explanation. Zambians don’t know and don’t care whom government contracted to supply the drugs, they know the President of Zambia; the man he appointed as Minister of Health and his Permanent Secretary. If there is any negligence, or in this case, evil practice in the delivery of health services, these people must be answerable, not the Chinese manufacturer or whoever supplied the drugs.
You cannot say, since the samples that the supplier brought during the bidding process passed the tests, then we should fold our hands and entrust citizens’ lives in the hands of businessmen who are here to make profit. That kind of negligence cannot be acceptable. It’s government’s responsibility to verify that what it procured is what has been supplied.
Some time back during an investigation we carried out in the oil supply scandals in 2017, we learnt that when bidders win contracts to supply fuel, their oil is sampled at the point of loading and it is also sampled at the point of offloading in Dar-es-salaam before the crude is pumped into Indeni Refinery. They don’t just assume that what is on the bill of lading is the actual content being supplied, no! The reason they do this is not because they suspect that sharks may have urinated in the crude oil and contaminated it during the voyage, it’s because, in this million-dollar business of supply, there is no room for error. There is so much at stake and a little negligence can cause a life-long catastrophe! Government can lose millions of dollars and people can die.
So, stop pointing fingers at the supplier, point fingers at the Ministry of Health. Someone is not doing their job, and if they are doing it, then they are doing it to fatten their pockets and not to serve the public. These scandals are too much at the Ministry of Health and it’s time heads rolled!
Last year, we reported about all these illegalities in the drug supply at the Ministry of Health, and we remember being blasted for ‘rumour mongering’ by the Minister and his Permanent Secretary. Our report revealed that there is a Chinese company that was providing medical supplies without subjecting the commodities to quality examinations. We further revealed the Ministry’s awarding of supply contracts to companies of interest, and they didn’t like us for publishing what they described as ‘speculation.’
But today, they are panicking for allowing what they could have prevented if they did their jobs. Let’s not make jokes with people’s lives. This is pure witchcraft and Zambians must stand up to protest against this negligence.
And talking about protesting, we are seriously concerned with the citizens’ reaction to this development. What is going on in Zambia? Where are the gallant men and women of our generation to explore legal channels and save the country from this deterioration?
Zambia is, indeed, a country of docile, gullible people! This is a country of press statements and political rhetoric. We have counted that since this news of toxic medicine was reported to the public, only one politician has raised unsolicited questions around the supply of toxic medicine – and that’s Mr Chishimba Kambwili. If this is how vigilant citizens operate, then we must forget about anything good coming for those who are not benefiting from all these government scandals. We are doomed!