The shortage of medical drugs in public health institutions is partly attributable to theft by pharmacists and doctors, it has been claimed.
A report by the Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (Act-SA) claimed that medical practitioners in government-run hospitals steal drugs from these institutions to benefit their private businesses. Act-SA chairperson David Jamali said:
Medical practitioners, particularly pharmacists and doctors, create drug shortages to benefit from referrals to their private businesses.
There is an increase in cases of drug theft and absence of doctors when they are supposed to be at work. In most cases, they are found at their private businesses.
That has left many patients unattended to and deaths of patients who are supposed to live.
… Drugs such as anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) and those for treating chronic diseases like diabetes were stolen from Masvingo General Hospital creating acute drug shortage of medicines as a strategy to push desperate patients to private pharmacies.
However, the report by Act-SA was dismissed by the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) secretary-general, Sacrifice Chirisa, who said that the medical practitioners accused of theft were found not guilty.
He condemned the report as half-baked as it did not consider the shortage of skills in the country and the sacrifices being made by doctors to keep the health sector working.