via Bulawayo24 NEWS | Parirenyatwa undresses MDC-T’s Dr Labode 14 June 2014 by Patrick Chitumba
HEALTH and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa has castigated the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Health and Child Care, Dr Ruth Labode, for blowing the issue of expired drugs at three government hospitals in Bulawayo out of proportion, saying she was aware of the matter as she was once a board member at one of the institutions.
Addressing a press conference after meeting the Chief Executive Officers of Ingutsheni Central Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals, Mpilo Central Hospital and National Pharmaceutical at Mpilo hospital in the city yesterday, Dr Parirenyatwa said while he appreciated the role played by the committee chaired by Dr Labode, her handling of the situation last week was aggressive.
Dr Labode and her committee toured the three health institutions after which she lashed out at the CEO’s for driving Mercedes Benz vehicles hired from CMED (Private) Limited for about $6,000 rental monthly and receiving fuel allocations of up to 420 litres a month.
UBH’s Nonhlanhla Ndlovu was singled out for strong criticism as she and her directors are getting cellphone allowances of between $100 and $600 a month.
“The chairperson of the committee (Dr Labode) was also the chairperson of Mpilo Hospital board when these things were happening. She knew about the CEOs hired vehicle from CMED and approved it so there is really nothing new,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He said the committee should look at things holisitically so that the general people are not scared of going to the government hospitals.
“We welcome the committee and their analysis but it should provide an ethical oversight so that we are together as government,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He defended the CEOs packages, saying they were approved by the government.
“I had a meeting with them (CEOs) and the allegations that were made against them (by the committee) including the issue that they are getting obscene perks are not true. The CEOs are doing what they are doing according to treasury requirements,” he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa said the conditions of service for CEOs stipulated that they should get a certain category of vehicle from the Central Mechanical Department (CMED).
“If the vehicle is not there for sale from CMED, they are allowed to hire it but only from CMED and in this case they were approached and got the cars,” he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa said he was certain that if treasury provided money for the purchase of the vehicles for the CEOs then there would not be any problems requiring the institutions to depend on hiring.
“So the money to pay for the hiring of the vehicles is not taken from the institution to pay CMED. It is government that pays that money. If it means that as government we must look at the conditions of service of all our CEOs and lower them then that decision would be followed. Government approved this. What they did was lawful and there was no corruption in that regard,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He added that staff in health institutions including doctors, nurses and CEOs were working under difficult conditions and should be supported.
On the issue of expired drugs, Dr Parirenyatwa said all procedures were followed and the hospitals were not in the wrong.
“I would like to categorically state that procedures have been followed. If you have drugs in your institutions that have expired, they must be separated from live drugs and after separating them, they must be destroyed,” he said.
The Minister said the problem that led to the piling of drugs at the hospitals was the fact that the Ministry of Finance – which approves their destruction – had in years not given the nod.
“You can only get permission from the Ministry of Finance and when they say yes, then the drugs are destroyed. I am aware that over the years treasury has not been giving the permission easily. So there has been accumulation of expired drugs and some institutions have been incinerating them,” he said.
When MPs visited Ingutsheni Hospital, they saw expired drugs that were filled in a room that included Nifedipine capsules and Albendazole for children as well as medical devices like syringes and catheters.
At UBH, the storeroom in which expired drugs were stored had been cleared up and the drugs burnt.