AG finds critical flaws in pharmaceutical control at state health institutions

30 November 2016 - 14:18 By Sipho Mabena

The auditor-general has identified critical flaws in the storage and management of medical supplies‚ recording of patients’ details as well as the keeping of records of medication dispensed to patients at government health depots and health institutions. In his audit report on the performance and management of pharmaceuticals at the Department of Health‚ released in Pretoria on Wednesday‚ auditor-general Kimi Makwetu found that 63% of public health facilities failed to take down patients’ details or record medication given to patients‚ resulting in a lack of accounting for dispensed medication.He said that some depots and institutions were unable to accurately and completely account for the movement and value of medical supplies “due to poor recording”.A performance audit is an independent evaluating measure taken to ensure that resources were procured economically and used efficiently and effectively.Makwetu said his office assessed whether medicines and medical supplies were managed in a manner that ensures patients received prescribed medication on the day of their visits to healthcare facilities.A total of 109 health institutions and 10 medical depots were visited over the past two years.The auditor-general found that‚ though standard operating procedures to manage pharmaceuticals were developed‚ these were not always implemented.He said this resulted in poor storage practices and medical depots and health institutions.“I addition‚ while the reported burden of disease increased over the past decade‚ infrastructure (storerooms‚ waiting areas‚ consulting rooms) in the healthcare system has not proportionally increased‚ adding pressure to delivery of health services‚” Makwetu said.The auditor-general also highlighted instances of poor communication between directorates responsible for planning‚ budgeting and pharmaceutical services‚ which‚ he said‚ led to a misalignment of the pharmaceutical budget and the actual healthcare needs.Monitoring of adherence to policies and procedures was also lacking‚ leading to challenges with storage of pharmaceuticals and related losses due to damage and expiry of medication.He said some health departments overspent on their pharmaceutical budgets as they budgeted based on historical data instead of actual healthcare needs of citizens.Makwetu noted that quality of healthcare delivery was negatively affected due to the shortage of pharmacists and assistants to deliver pharmaceutical services and provide support to nurses.He also identified challenges with supply chain management practices‚ with penalties not imposed suppliers for late delivery of supplies and late payment of suppliers.The auditor-general has recommended‚ amongst others‚ an implementation of standard operating procedures‚ alignment of budgets to actual healthcare needs‚ updating of human resource‚ ensure payments to suppliers within 30 days and impose penalties for late delivery‚ training of staff on stock management. – TMG Digital/The Times

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