The public health delivery system is bleeding due to poor management of scarce resources, amid revelations that drugs are expiring in warehouses while executives are abusing fuel and cellphone allowances, Parliament heard this week.A report prepared by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care on the state of Zimbabwe’s health delivery system unearthed gross irregularities that threaten to bring down service delivery in the sector.
The report follows investigations done by the committee last year through field visits and oral evidence from stakeholders.
In the report, the committee also noted that failure by the ministries of Health and Child Care and Finance and Economic Development to include the Health Services Fund collected by hospitals in the former ministry’s annual budget, raised questions on whether the money is being properly accounted for.
“The committee observed that, the Health Service Fund is not mentioned in the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s budget, that Central Hospitals are left to fend for themselves through the HSF, that the referral system has broken down, drugs are expiring at rural health centres and district hospitals whilst the Central Hospitals are in need of the same,” reads part of the report.
The committee noted that Mpilo and Parirenyatwa Hospitals collected up to $3 million and $10 million annually respectively as HSF, but the money was not included in the ministry of health’s budget, creating room for abuse as there were no adequate checks and balances.
On the management of drugs, the report noted that they were bought without reference to their shelf-life, resulting in some of them expiring.
“It is essential to note that 98 percent of the drugs being distributed to various hospitals are donated by donors and do not seem to be purchased with morbidity patterns in mind and have very short life of approximately three months in most cases,” the committee said.
The committee said there was no co-ordination of training programmes at district hospitals, resulting in some employees spending most of their time attending workshops at the expense of patients.
In its recommendations, the committee urged Government to ensure that an effective management mechanism for drugs be established to prevent wastage.