Negligence! N1bn HIV drugs expired in storage, says FG

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has revealed that $3.2m (N1.08bn) worth of HIV drugs expired in storage.

Adewole said this while delivering a speech at the ‘Dissemination Meeting of 2016 National Health Facility Survey’ in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said clinical competence and knowledge of healthcare workers,  availability of drugs and basic equipment,  and management and supervision of healthcare facilities were essential to the improvement of the health sector.

The minister said, “Availability of commodities is also important. We have mentioned inadequate funding which is a major factor but it is not the only reason for the out of stock of commodities. Better management is also important.

“We are living witnesses to the challenges we face with the HIV programme where drugs worth about $3.2m expired. So, it is not a question of it (drugs) not being available. Sometimes the drugs are there but we don’t give it to them (patients) and then they expire.”

Speaking with our correspondent after the event, the minister said the incident would not repeat itself as mechanisms had been put in place to forestall such.

Adewole added, “The issue is that the drugs expired because of some challenges in the system and we are trying to putting that behind us. We are now putting together a network of logistics supply system. We have two excellent facilities in Abuja and Lagos which we call ‘Warehouse in a Box’.

“The one in Abuja is called Premium Medical Supplies Store and everything there is computerised and with that kind of system, there will be no more expired drugs because we will be able to monitor them electronically. It will be a system of first in, first out and we will also be monitoring expiry dates.

“What we are also trying to avoid in the country is a situation where we take drugs that are about to expire. When you pick drugs that have short shelf lives like six months, they can expire easily.”

Meanwhile, Adewole has said putting money in the health sector is not expenditure but an investment that will yield dividends.

He said this at National Stakeholders ‘Validation Meeting of the second National Strategic Health Development Plan framework which was attended by health commissioners from the 36 states of the federation.

Adewole said there was a sense of urgency for governments at all levels,  particularly the state governments to have the political will to place high premium on budget financing for health because, over time, budget for health was grossly inadequate.

He said, “Health is an investment issue, health is security and, above all, health is a human right issue, the right to health should not deny anyone.”

The minister said that the Federal Government was working with the state governments to revitalise the primary healthcare centres, adding that ailments like malaria, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS were better treated at the primary health care level.Punch

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