Auditor-General finds medical supplies are not being properly managed
The Auditor-General has identified critical flaws in the storage and management of medical supplies‚ as well as in recording of patients’ details.
He has also cited shortcoming in the storage of records of medication dispensed to patients at government health depots and health institutions.
In his audit report on the performance and management of pharmaceuticals at the Department of Health‚ released in Pretoria on Wednesday‚ Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu found that 63% of public health facilities failed to take down patients’ details or record medication given to patients‚ resulting in a lack of accounting for dispensed medication.
He said some depots and institutions were unable to accurately and completely account for the movement and value of medical supplies "due to poor recording".
A performance audit is an independent evaluating measure taken to ensure that resources are procured economically and used efficiently and effectively.
Makwetu said his office assessed whether medicines and medical supplies were managed in a manner that ensures patients received prescribed medication on the day of their visits to healthcare facilities.
A total of 109 health institutions and 10 medical depots were visited in the past two years.
Makwetu found that‚ although standard operating procedures to manage pharmaceuticals were developed‚ these were not always implemented.
He said this resulted in poor storage practices and medical depots and health institutions.
"In addition‚ while the reported burden of disease increased over the past decade‚ infrastructure (storerooms‚ waiting areas‚ consulting rooms) in the healthcare system has not proportionally increased‚ adding pressure to delivery of health services‚" Makwetu said.
He also highlighted instances of poor communication between directorates responsible for planning‚ budgeting and pharmaceutical services‚ which led to a misalignment of the pharmaceutical budget and the actual healthcare needs.
Monitoring of adherence to policies and procedures was also lacking‚ leading to challenges with storage of pharmaceuticals and related losses due to damage and expiry of medication.
He said some health departments overspent on their pharmaceutical budgets as they budgeted based on historical data instead of actual healthcare needs of citizens.
Makwetu noted that the quality of healthcare delivery was negatively affected due to the shortage of pharmacists and assistants to deliver pharmaceutical services and provide support to nurses.
He also identified challenges with supply chain management practices‚ with penalties not imposed on suppliers for late delivery of supplies and late payment of suppliers.
He recommended‚ among other things‚ that standard operating procedures be implemented‚ budgets be aligned to actual healthcare needs‚ human resources be updated and‚ suppliers be paid within 30 days with penalties for late delivery‚ and that staff be trained on stock management.