Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, has identified critical flaws in the storage and management of medical supplies‚ recording of patients’ details and keeping of records of medication dispensed to patients at public health facilities.
Makwetu was tabling performance audits on three key government service delivery departments.
In his audit report on the performance and management of pharmaceuticals at the Department of Health‚ the Auditor-General 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.
Some depots and institutions were unable to accurately and completely account for the movement and value of medical supplies “due to poor recording”.
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 over the past two years.
The report revealed that‚ although standard operating procedures to manage pharmaceuticals were developed‚ these were not always implemented and resulted in poor storage practices at 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 told Business Day.
The audit also revealed that health departments overspent on their pharmaceutical budgets as they budgeted based on historical information rather than on 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.
According to the report, 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.
Makwetu also identified challenges with supply chain management practices‚ with penalties not imposed on suppliers for late delivery of supplies and late payment of suppliers.
The auditor-general 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.