HEALTH and Child Care Minister, Dr Obadiah Moyo has directed National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) bosses to pull up their socks or face the chop.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
He said this at an emergency meeting with the management on Sunday. The meeting came as a result of the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa who expressed dismay last Friday at NatPharm where she found stock piles of medicines when district hospitals and clinics had none.
The Health Minister in a no nonsense mood, banging the desk barking order after order, felt the NatPharm management was incompetent.
“We came here to see exactly what is happening with regards to receipt and distribution of products. We came here the last time and saw the warehouse was full of products and then we came back the second time and found that the warehouse was still full of products. But in the meantime we have heard of complaints from outside Harare, from districts, people complaining that they are not getting any medications.
“In the meantime as you rightly alluded, you have been purchasing products. You confirmed it yourself that 14 trucks arrive on a daily basis. But at the end of the da where are the products going? That is the issue. We want a situation where we will be able to supply the whole country. The whole country must be able to feel that medicine supplies are available. We want to start with those district hospitals.
“We mustn’t neglect the low-lying district areas. Everybody gets sick and they all require medication. Not just people who live in town, everyone right through Zimbabwe. And when I look at your team here, I look at a team which is quite competent. But what then comes out of that team does not sound competent. You get my point. That is my worry now. You see. You are all highly educated, you are all qualified but the activities which are coming out of that expertise is not warranting now what we are seeing. We need to ensure that what we do is in line with your capability,” he said.
He gave the management a week to clear their warehouses.
“I want to see directors and managers who are able to supervise their own workers. I want to see directors at NatPharm starting with the MD who know exactly what is happening at each and every corner of NatPharm.
“And on top of it. I am giving you one week. I am giving you one week to clear all those boxes which are there. One week. You’ve got to make all the arrangements to make sure that all those stocks move and go to the provinces, to the districts, to the rural healthcare centres, to the clinics, to the laboratories.
“We can’t have that excuse. They must go to the laboratories where they are supposed to be utilised. Otherwise if they expire on you, it’s a loss of money. So it is up to you as a team to make and come up with a situation where you will be able to say that we have put a system in place which takes care of the movement of products from our warehouse,” he said.
He assured the management that if they continue working in a lackadaisical mode, they risk losing their jobs.
“And I can assure you if we do not change our attitudes, it is entirely up to you to make sure that you want to continue working. That is the bottom line. Let’s save our jobs by working. If you don’t like to work, choose somewhere else.
“All we want to see is people who want to work. People who deliver. Not people who think of tea. Drinking tea all the time. We don’t want that. So we are going to make sure that your board is in place. We are going to make sure that performance appraisals are carried out on each and every one of you on a quarterly basis so that we see you are up to the task. It’s a matter of being up to the task if you are not up to the task just say goodbye. We want delivery, delivery, delivery,” Dr Moyo said.
Dr Moyo was also concerned about pilfering where medicines from NatPharm illegally found their way at shoddy warehouses in Harare.
“And we all are to make sure that there is no leakage in our system. There has been a lot of leakage in our system. Our medicines are being sold at the flea markets. Medicines coming with your seals which means that our security is laxed. I will make an effort to make sure that ZRP work with each and every institution to make sure that we secure our institutions. We can’t spend ZWL$80 million, ZWL$190 million for people to pilfer our medicines. It is up to you. We don’t expect this to be done at head office or by myself, or the permanent secretary.
“It is you at NatPharm who have to make sure that all the systems are in place to secure our medicines. We will help you to boost the security but you must also be 100 percent alert that people will not steal medicines we are suffering to get. You see the President has made all sorts of arrangements to bring in medicines for us. Getting medicines from the United Arab Emirates, medicines from all over the world. We cannot afford to bring in medicines to be stolen after all the efforts that have been made. So we have to jack up and make sure we are not sleeping on the job while thieves steal our medicines. I remember an article of a whole warehouse created in Waterfalls and you find that the medicines came from NatPharm. Where were you when they were bring stolen? Because you were sleeping on the job. So wake up. It’s a wakeup call. We have given you enough warning.
“We have given you enough time. It is now up to you to make sure that you work in line with requirements of government. Are we all agreeable? Is there anyone who doesn’t want to work in line with government’ requirements. You all want your work isn’t it? You want your jobs. So if you want your jobs, Mai Sifeku and your team, you have to work hard. That’s all we are saying. Work hard and less relaxation,” the Minister said.