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23 pharmacists on PCCB radar for diversion of medicine from Muhimbili

Thursday January 14 2021
pccb pic

Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) director general Brigadier General John Mbungo addresses journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday. PHOTO | ERICKY BONIPHACE

By Louis Kalumbia

Dar es Salaam. Diversion of medicines and medical equipment from public hospitals by dishonest workers has been confirmed to be a country’s disaster, after the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) yesterday explained how Sh1.2 billion worth drugs were diverted by the unscrupulous pharmacists at the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (Moi).

The anti-corruption bureau’s confirmation came hours after The Citizen published a story titled: ‘Case exposes how crooked workers divert medicine from Muhimbili National Hospital’.

The story details the case of Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) workers who were sacked for giving patients high quantities of prescribed drugs contrary to disease conditions of patients categorically saying it could be used as a tip of the situation in public hospitals.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, the PCCB director general, Brigadier General John Mbungo said in collaboration with Moi they have prevented diversion of medicine and medical equipment worth Sh1.2 billion.

He said at least 23 pharmacists were being investigated by the anti-corruption bureau allegedly for their involvement in the saga claimed to have been done between 2018 and 2020.

Brig Gen Mbungo said the pharmacists are implicated in the saga for lodging false information in the medicine and medical equipment delivery system known as MEDPRO4.

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Describing how the accused did, Brig Gen. Mbungo said they used to lodge high value medicines and medical equipment as compared to prescriptions made by doctors.

Pharmacists are also accused of providing false information that some patients have been prescribed with certain medicines for more than once, something that would have caused health complications if that was the case.

“The diversion which is a crime under the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act Number 11 of 2007 has been contained after investigations revealed the difference between what pharmacists lodged in the system and actual doctor’s prescriptions in the patients’ records,” he said.

He added, “For instance, whenever the doctor prescribed 30 tablets to a patient for use in one month, pharmacists doubled the number of tablets 60 which is contrary to the amount indicated by a doctor or what patients are given.”

Brig Gen Mbungo said in another way, pharmacists entered wrong information in the system showing that the medicine has been issued to a patient, but in actuality the said patient didn’t attend the hospital (phantom patients).

“Also, we have discovered increment in the doctors’ consultation fees. The medicines had to be sabotaged from the government legal installed system,” he said.

According to him, the Health minister, Dr Dorothy Gwajima who has been touring public hospitals across the country termed the diversion as the national disaster that requires collective efforts to address.

He called management of public hospitals with doubts in delivery of medicine and medical equipment to contact PCCB that would launch investigation to clear uncertainties.

In another development, Brig Gen. Mbungo said PCCB has collected Sh14.477 billion from July 2020 to December last year, including Sh1.149 billion recovered on behalf of the National Development Corporation (NDC).

The amount was part of Sh27.3 billion collected from some 657 defaulters of tractors secured on loan from NDC in 2018 from Arusha, Manyara, Morogoro and Dodoma regions.

“December 29, 2020. I handed to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) equipment worth Sh1.2 billion from a contractor and directed 16 others to submit the same within 14 days. Otherwise, the equipment would cause loss to the government,” he said.

He said 10 companies have presented their obligations to PCCB and that the bureau was communicating with the remaining six companies.

The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) has on Wednesday, January 13, 2020 announced major reshuffles of its directors, investigators and regional commanders aimed at improving efficiency.

Meanwhile, Brig Gen. Mbungo announced major reshuffles by naming new directors have been named and the appointment of some investigators as new regional commanders.

In the reshuffle, some regional commanders have been transferred to the new work stations, while some others have been recalled to the PCCB headquarters where they would be assigned other jobs.

“Reshuffles made as well those underway should be well known by the public who will have to ensure ensure their information reach appropriate persons,” said Maj Brig Mbungo.

PCCB also has introduced the mobile PCCB which is a platform for the bureau to meet the public at their respective areas, listen and provide solutions to grievances they face.

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