Breaking the Silence: USAID Exposes Medicine Theft Plaguing Liberia's Healthcare System

Apr 17, 2024 - 07:06
Apr 17, 2024 - 07:07
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Breaking the Silence: USAID Exposes Medicine Theft Plaguing Liberia's Healthcare System

By: William McGill

Monrovia: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has revealed that 90% of pharmacies in Liberia are selling stolen medicine donated by aid organizations.

The mission criticized these acts of fraud, stating that only patients with sufficient funds can access donated essential medicines. 

Such revelation highlights a significant problem of corruption that severely impacts healthcare access in the country.

USAID has further called on the Government of Liberia for increased accountability and prosecution of those involved.

Exposing the scandal in Monrovia, USAID Mission Director Mr. Jim Wright noted that such a report means that medicine is only available to patients who have enough money to buy them.

“In fact, an assessment last year showed that over 90% of the pharmacies in Liberia sell stolen medicine,” Mr. Wright indicated. 

“That is unacceptable. That means that medicine is only available to patients who have enough money to buy them,” he stated.

The USAID Mission Director spoke at the launch of the “Campaign to Improve Supply Chain for Donated Medicines,” which was organized by USAID Liberia Civil Society Activity (CSA) Project in collaboration with the Civil Society Health Coalition.

According to the USAID, pharmacists’ alleged sale of stolen drugs report, the mission head further narrated that patients who don’t have enough money are left with no option but to suffer from health-related problems. 

“This is totally unfair and immoral. USAID is committed to ending corruption and mismanagement within the public health supply chain for donated medications and stopping drug stockouts,” he said. 

Mr. Wright at the same time stressed that ending corruption in the public health sector can’t be carried out alone by USAID, thus indicating that partnerships are major tools in overcoming these challenges, and as such, every stakeholder has a role to play.

Wright narrated that the Civil Society Health Coalition has already identified where the problems are, and this is helpful to them in understanding what is needed to be done in other to improve the supply chain system in Liberia.

“We proudly support these efforts through USAID’s Civil Society Activity. In fact, I would like to take a moment to recognize the extraordinary Liberian organizations that form the Coalition,” he said. 

Accordingly, the six CSOs include Community Health Education and Social Services, Efficient Research and Development Institute, and Humanity Above One-Self Foundation.

The others are Public Health Initiative Liberia, Volunteers United for Development, and Youth Network for Positive Change.

According to the USAID Mission Director, CSOs have worked tirelessly to monitor distributions, resolve issues, advocate for improvements of the system, and raise awareness that donated medicines are free and should not be sold.

Mr. Wright further termed the campaign launch as a pivotal moment in their collective efforts to address a critical issue affecting every Liberian’s health and well-being.

Wright used the occasion to thank the government, urging the need to recognize efforts made by Liberian healthcare workers.

The USAID Mission Boss at the same time indicated that in the President’s Malaria Initiative last year, life-saving medicines and other medical supplies worth 14 million United States dollars were donated to Liberia by the (USAID) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

“To make a meaningful and sustainable impact on reducing fraud, the Government of Liberia must also assume more responsibility for ensuring accountability,” Wright said. 

Additionally, Wright noted that the recent indictment of former Margibi County Health Team members and other parties who were fired for corruption is a step in the right direction.

Wright added that the next important step should be the government of Liberia embarking on prosecuting those who are accused and, when found guilty, ensuring they are punished by the law.

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William B.L. McGill I am William B L McGill, an aspiring Liberian journalist. Having spent a considerable time in the field, I have developed keen interest in human interest stories, health reporting, and entertainment journalism as well For info. Contact: (WhatsApp) +231881056765/ Email: mcgillwilliambl@gmail.com