It is highly cynical, deceptive and a mark of total disrespect to the nation for Health Minister sylvia Masebo to ascribe the current Ministry of Health shambles and shortage of drugs to medical personnel, whom she has accused of stealing drugs.

There is absolutely no logical connection between health workers owning pharmacies near the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), to the countrywide shortage of drugs which is a result of sheer incompetence.

The indignation by doctors is therefore understandable and must be taken seriously by the government because demonising the cadre of doctors and other medics who have endured drug and equipment shortages is incompetence and inability for the political leadership to appreciate the depth of their own short falling is a task they have had to bear, for nearly two years.

It is common knowledge that some doctors have been forced to spend their own money to help desperate patients pay for prescriptions which they could not afford. Therefore Ms Masebo is abusing rather disingenuously the effort of many people including donor situations that have come to the aid of government to ameliorate the drug crisis that has already cost this country many lives.

It is quite clear that spending US$120 million buying drugs from Egypt, which could be bought in Zambia is an investment in irregularity, which will only create an even more critical drug shortage.  Because the Zambian government will pay the Egyptian commission, which could have been paid here in Zambia at an even lower rate, meaning that for the same amount that the Zambian government has paid to Egypt, we are going to receive less drugs than would have been the case if they had engaged local suppliers.

This is not rocket science.  It is simple arithmetic and yet the Ministry stubbornly insists on 3rd party procurement.

We expect that the auditor general will have something to say because the extra money we are spending in Egypt could have been used to repair vital diagnostic equipment which is not working in our public hospitals, forcing patients to seek private sector service.

Our advice to Ms Masebo is to let her continue her flamboyant displays on television and other media in the hope that she can impress those who do not suffer the serious shortages and lack of service that ordinary Zambians are having to bear.

This programme is not new.  As early as March 2022 the Resident Doctors Association led by Brian Sampa complained about the dire situation involving the critical shortage of essential drugs and supplies that had hit the public health system, with most public health facilities completely running out of stock.

Dr. Sampa, at the time said it had become difficult for his members to deliver health care as some of the delivery institutions  had run out of supplies, even such essentials as wool, gloves, needles and rapid diagnostic tests including batteries for BP machines and specimen bottles had run out.  This is not to mention the perpetual breakdown and non-delivery of catheters, CT machines.

More recently the Zambia Medical Association General Secretary Dr. Roy Tolopu indicated that the current 53.1 stock level fell well below the 70-80 percent.

Sadly it was Ms Masebo who lied on the floor of Parliament about drug availability.  She even forced the Vice President Mutale Nalumango to undertake an equally spurious visit to hospitals in Lusaka to suggest availability of drugs.  Sadly you cannot hide the fact of patients needlesly dying from a lack of drugs and no amount of propaganda will change the situation.

Zambians know what would have happened if Dr. Kaunda was in power.

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