Zimbabwe holds onto expired drugs for 15 years due to lack of incinerators


Zimbabwean hospitals held onto expired drugs for over 15 years as suitable disposal of medicines could not be carried out due to lack of incinerating facilities that met the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) standards, the ministry of Health and Child Care has said. 

Two incinerators have been installed at NatPharm Harare and Bulawayo but expired stock from as far back as 1995 is still being cleared. 

This comes as Masvingo Provincial Hospital had expired dangerous/classified drugs not disposed of contrary to section 90 of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23] which requires disposal of all obsolete, surplus and unserviceable assets.

The drugs expired between the years 1995 and 2019. 

Marondera Provincial Hospital was granted authority to dispose of expired drugs worth $7 140 on July 26, 2019 but audit-general Mildred Chiri pointed out that as at the time of my audit, the expired drugs were still at the hospital.

The startling revelations are contained in the recently released auditor-general report for the financial year ended December 31, 2019.

“In the past we utilised facilities at forestry and mining entities but due to closure of some and scaling down in some, their certification and functionality of the same has been lost,” said the ministry of Health and Child Care in response to the lack of disposal of expired drugs at the health institutions. 

Chiri noted that failure to destroy dangerous and expired drugs may result in pilferages which pose danger to the public. Also storing expired drugs deprives the pharmacy of the much-needed storage space, she added. 

The ministry of Health and Child Care said the ministry has engaged a partner who has made available two large scale incinerators to ease the problem. 

“The two incinerators have since been installed at NatPharm Harare and Bulawayo. It has been agreed that NatPharm will utilise the facilities for their expired stock till February 2020 thereafter, each province will be allocated a time slot for their expired medicines. We anticipate this exercise to be completed by end of June 2021. We will revert to the regular twice a year destruction with the expectation that the amount of medicines expiring will be minimal.”

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