For those who frequent government health facilities, it is hardly surprising that the Parliamentary Committee appointed by the Speaker to assess the supply of drugs in hospitals, has revealed that the situation was actually worse than thought.
What is surprising is that these people are actually surprised.
Zambians from all corners of the country have been crying about lack of medicines and laboratory services in hospitals as a result of health facilities not having reagents.
The findings of the committee has therefore merely confirmed what most Zambians knew already. There are serious drugs shortages in government hospitals throughout the country. No amount of sugar coating or masking the truth by the Ministry of Health, can change this situation. Every patient in need of treatment in a government hospital knows they have to buy medicine at some point from a private pharmacy.
Yesterday, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Brian Mundubile said the findings of the committee of parliamentarians constituted to assess supply of drugs in hospitals countrywide point to serious shortage of medicines and laboratory reagents in most health facilities in the country, than earlier projected.
Mr Mundubile, who is also PF Presidential Candidate said in Lusaka that the report of the committee of parliamentarians constituted by Speaker of the National Assembly, Nelly Mutti to assess the supply of drugs in hospitals countrywide, depicts a serious shortage of drugs, forcing people to buy from pharmacies and private hospitals.
“The situation is actually more serious than we earlier thought and as a result of that, a number of our people, especially the poor people, the poor Zambians are adversely affected. We are at a position where there are no reagents in hospitals and even stationery now is a problem,” he said.
This is the reality that many Zambians have been facing and hoping government would sort out.
However, ministry of Health officials, including the two principal officers, the minister and her permanent secretary, have been in denial over the lack of drugs and medical kits in government hospitals.
With this authoritative report from Parliamentarians, government should take corrective measures to ensure patients are given the full benefits of going to a public hospital.
As Mr Mundubile said, Government should urgently address the shortage of drugs and laboratory reagents, as this centres on saving people’s lives.
Hospitals should provide solace to patients and their family by ensuring that medicines are given as prescribed.
Those who can afford to buy medicine do not even go to public hospitals but opt for private hospital. It is therefore the poor in society who are subjected to needless suffering when public hospitals are not stocked with adequate medicines and medical equipment.
There should be no more prevarication in ensuring medicines are procured and dispatched to health facilities as required. It is the right thing to do. After all President Hakainde Hichilema recently did assure the nation that money had been made available for stocking of hospitals with medicines and necessary medical equipment.
Let the President’s words be given action.