Two additional persons from the Ministry of Public Health’s Materials Management Unit (MMU) have signalled that they will not be returning to work following Wednesday’s (May 17, 2017) foiled attempt to steal medical supplies from the Diamond Drugs Bond.
According to the Ministry, “Just a handful turned up to work Friday”. On Thursday, it was reported that employees who were initially taken into custody and later released have not reported for duty today as “They were on strike”.
The first resignation came yesterday (Thursday, May 28, 2017) after police grilled eleven individuals, who were detained after they discovered stolen items in the bond’s washroom and MOPH vehicle used to transport workers.
As a result of the developments, an Official from the MMU stated that “we are redirecting some manpower from other health facilities within Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica) to cushion the loss of those employees.”
The police were also able to get a confession from one of the suspects who still remains in custody.
Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence (MP) currently on travel duties, has been informed about the ongoing events at the Diamond facility.
The Ministry today (Friday, May 19, 2017) says the workers have been under the microscope since January following Cabinet shakeup which saw Lawrence’s appointment to the Ministry.
“The bond was systematically raided” by dishonest employees an official in the MOPH said.
The official explained that after Lawrence assumed the helm of the Ministry “systemic changes and insider information” which brought pressure on the perennial pilfering practice helped MMU officials crack the ring.
Items stashed off included Clozole (an anti-fungal cream used for yeast infection); OnCall Plus (used mainly by diabetics to test the blood sugar); Chlorophane (a cough medicine) and ferrovite (a multivitamin product used to treat or prevent low blood levels of iron and vitamin B12).
The stolen items have been conservatively valued at US$500 (G$100,000), the Ministry statement disclosed.
There have been reports of a shortage of essential drugs in outlying regions.
However, MMU records of distribution show that in many cases the shortages are artificially created, and like the Diamond find, a result of theft by MOPH employees. Some of those involved in the ring of venal employees have markets in the private pharmaceutical sector where the stolen items are allegedly sold, the Ministry said.