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Unlicensed trading in medical drugs irks State

GOVERNMENT is dismayed by the increasing number of people trading in medicines meant for public health institutions while others are selling expired drugs.
This came to light when the task force team comprising of Ministry of Health, Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority, State Police and the Drug Enforcement Commission raided unlicensed medical drugs in five districts on the Copperbelt.
During the operations that took place in Chililabombwe, Chingola, Kitwe, Luanshya and Ndola, more than 10 people were arrested for being found in possession of government drugs such as the anti-malaria medicines also known as coartem, family planning contraceptives and surgical gloves.
The operations were being led by the Ministry of Health with support from Global Fund.
The ministry’s deputy director pharmaceuticals services Chikuta Mbewe said it is unfortunate that public health workers are allegedly conniving with the networks of people to steal government medicines.
“At the centre of these crimes are individuals who are part of the system; Government will not relent to bring them to book especially that there are legal provisions under the Penal Code to deal with such issues,” Mr Mbewe said.
He said there is need to strengthen the co-ordination and collaboration between various organs of Government to ensure effective application of the law.
Mr Mbewe said Government has prioritised public awareness campaigns on the dangers of diversion of medicines. Government will partner with communities to increase participation in the running of health services.
“This war can only be won if communities become part of the solution. People should also know that expired drugs are dangerous for human consumption; manufactures of drugs cannot guarantee quality of a product after an expiry date. It becomes absolutely necessary for the public to identify expired drugs by looking out for an expiry date that is on the product,” he said.
The operations resulted in seizure of medicines believed to be government property and vendors who were arrested will soon appear in court. The products will be used as evidence in court; those not expired, will be returned to public health institutions.