Auditor General finds continuing issues in purchase, distribution of drugs at regional level

Central government and regional authorities continue to face difficulties in the purchase and distribution of drugs and medical supplies across the 10 regions, according to the Auditor General’s Report for 2016.

The report, which was laid in the National Assembly last Thursday, noted that $2.047 billion had been budgeted for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies under Heath Services Programmes for regions 1 to 10 and a large percentage of the allocation was spent. However, although drugs and medical supplies were received by the regional administrations, the costs were not stated on the documentation that accompanied the deliveries.

“As a result, it could not be determined whether the full value was received for the sum of $1.434 billion warranted to the [Ministry of Public Health],” the report states.

According to the report, at December 31, 2016, amounts totalling $1.838 billion were transferred by way of Inter Departmental Warrants (IDWs) by the regions to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) of which  $1.434 billion was spent by MoPH and $209.540 million by the regions themselves.

The warrants were verified as having been received by the MoPH and the unspent amounts on the warrants, totalling $403.273 million, were credited to the respective region’s appropriation accounts.

Additionally, examination of the payment vouchers revealed that the MoPH used $206.248 million received from Region 6 for this purpose to pay the ministry’s payroll for October 2016.

The report explains that $320.525 million in warrants were received by the Ministry for Region 6 and according to the [Integrated Financial Management System] Report and financial returns the full sum was expended by the Ministry on behalf of the Region for the period under review but checks revealed that only $114.277 million was spent on the purchase of drugs and medical supplies while the balance was used for payroll payments.

In response, MoPH stated that a breakdown of the value and quantity of the drugs and medical supplies procured would be done in future; and that they were engaging the Ministry of Finance to have the issue with the amount expended on the payroll resolved.

In several of the regions, the Auditor General noted that at the time of the audit, no system was in place to reconcile supplies received by the respective health facilities with the essential drugs list initially submitted to the ministry and therefore it could not be determined at this level also whether the full value was received for the sum warranted to the MoPH.

The Region 1 Regional Executive Officer, responding to this observation, noted that there was no tool to confirm that the supplies received represented the value of the sum warranted.

He explained that drugs and medical supplies were received by the respective health facilities based on requests and that a written request has been made of the Permanent Secretary of the MoPH for a breakdown of the values but to date a response was not given.

“Presently, the Department of Health has reinforced the use of the six registers (Stock Ledger, Daily Issue Register, Inter Facility Transfer Vouchers, Expiry Ledger, Donation and Grants Registers, Combine Requisition and Issuing Vouchers), to reconcile the supplies received by the respective health facilities in accordance with the essential drugs list initially submitted to the MoPH,” he went on to note.

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