Reports on distribution of medicines, medical supplies out

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—Reports of the Auditor General on the Distribution of Medicines and Medical Supplies, Management of Museums in the country and Implementation of Gender Mainstreaming Activities in Zambia are out.

Public Relations Officer in the office of the Auditor General (AG), Ellen Chilkale, disclosed that the three performance audit reports which were tabled in Parliament on Friday are now public documents and can be accessed from the Office of the AG.

In a press release made available to ZANIS in Lusaka today, Ms Chikale noted that salient issues in the reports include Report on the Distribution of Medicines and Medical Supplies with reasons for carrying out the audit was to ascertain the availability of medicines and medical supplies at the designated facilities at all times bearing in mind the substantial amounts of resources invested by government to procure the essential medicines and medical supplies.

She said key findings in the report revealed that there are low supply and stock levels of essential medicines and medical supplies at many hospitals and clinics and that accessibility of essential medicines at health facilities remains a bottleneck in the health service delivery system in Zambia.

Ms Chikale noted that the state of affairs was due to inappropriate quantities of medicines supplied by Medical Stores Limited (MSL), weaknesses in the distribution chain for medicines and medical supplies and inadequate maintenance of the medicine inventory including storage facilities.

She said the report recommends that the Ministry of Health in liaison with MSL and health facilities should ensure that medicines and other medical supplies are ordered on time to reduce the risk of stock outs and should conduct regular monitoring stock status to ensure optimum levels of essential medicines among others.

Ms Chikale noted that the reasons of carrying out the Management of Museums in Zambia was the realization that museums look after the cultural and natural property of the nation and interpret it to the public for education, enjoyment of the present and future organization.

She added that cultural and natural heritage plays a significant role in defining the nation’s cultural identity and pride and that it has the potential to generate and earn revenue through tourism.

Ms Chikale stressed that on the whole, the audit was also motivated by the findings of the financial audit reports for the years 2005 to 2008 which revealed weaknesses in the way museums were being managed.

She added that on the key findings, the report revealed that there was lack of adherence to policies and regulations in the preservation of the moveable artefacts, the National Museums Board had been operating without a strategic plan since 2006.

Ms Chikale pointed out that as of June 2011 the draft strategic plan for 2011 to 2015 had not been finalised and that the Ministry of Tourism and Arts had failed to efficiently and effectively plan, control and coordinate activities of the National Museums Board (NMB).

She stated that the report recommends that NMB and the Museums should ensure that a standardised documentation system of artefacts is implemented in all the museums in Zambia in order to confirm existence, ownership and security of the artefacts as well as the Ministry of Tourism and Arts should develop performance indicators to be used for monitoring activities under its charge among others.

Ms Chikale also said reason for auditing Implementation of Gender Mainstreaming Activities in Zambia emanated from the concerns raised by the public regarding the manner in which the implementation of gender mainstreaming activities by Gender in Development Division (GIDD) was being conducted as revealed in the previous audit reports.

She further said the other motivation was that government had signed and ratified a number of protocols relating to gender, thus it became necessary to undertake and an assessment of how effectively the protocols were being implemented.

Ms. Chikale noted that on the key findings, contrary to the 30 per cent minimum requirement as set out in the Beijing Conference and ratified by government, gender equity and equality has not been attained.

She said for instance, the allocation of land to women was 19.4 per cent women representation in decision making positions in economic empowerment funds to them was 19.3 pr cent compared to 40 per cent minimum requirement.

Ms Chikale, however, stressed that other findings was that although macro policies to some extent were gender responsive, they had differences which needed to be corrected to make them fully gender responsive, saying for instance the national budget and budget call circulars were still not gender responsive.

She further added that the report recommends that the current National Gender Policy (NGP) should be reviewed to incorporate the recently signed and ratified protocols, all relevant discriminatory laws should be reviewed, amended or replaced and that all MPSAs should take into account the requirements of the NGP in the implementation of their programmes and activities among others.

Ms Chikale encouraged the public and other key stakeholders to read the reports for their information as well as timely decision making.

She further appealed to the media to help disseminate the reports by highlighting the findings and recommendations to the citizenry.

Ms Chikale further noted that performance audits go beyond issues of compliance and scrutinise the 3Es, namely economy, efficiency and effectiveness of government programmes or activities.