Statement on the recalling of sub-standard drugs

We at the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) have observed with great concern the continued recalling of the HoneyBee Pharmacy supplied drugs and personal protective equipment by the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA), five months after distribution was done.

We, however, commend President Edgar Lungu for the actions taken so far in response to the HoneyBee and ZAMRA scandal, which includes the dismissal of Dr. Chitalu Chilufya as Minister of Health and Ms. MulaleloKakulubelwa as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health. We also commend the decision by the Medical Stores Limited Board of Directors to dismiss the Managing Director, Chikuta Mbewe, for allowing the distribution of sub-standard medical kits from September 2020.

To us, the recalling of drugs and personal protective equipment is a sign that standards and procedures were not followed when acquiring and distributing the drugs and products to the general public by ZAMRA. We, therefore, condemn in the strongest possible terms,the supply of unsafe and substandard health supplies to the general public and the healthcare system in the country.

The actions by Honeybee Pharmacy and ZAMRAperformed under Government’sfullwatchand clearance from MSL have put the lives of citizens in harm’s way and have eroded the trust Zambians have in the country’s healthcare system.It is heart-breaking to imagine the extent of damage to citizens’ health the supplied substandard drugs and other products have caused, which among others include STIs.

On behalf of the CCZ ecumenical membership and the citizens of Zambia, we demand for a commission of inquiry to be instituted in order to determine the extent of the damage caused to the health of many Zambians who were exposed to the substandard drugs and personal protective products that were supplied by HoneyBee Pharmacy and ZAMRA.

As a Church we are extremely concerned that while the country is battling with a global pandemic and should be working round the clock to ensure that citizens are protected from all other ailments, Government through Ministry of Health which has the mandate to protect people’s lives allowed the distribution of defective drugs to its citizens.

We also wish to urge the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to speed up investigations into the suspected corruption in the manner Honeybee Pharmacy was awarded a contract by the Ministry of Health to supply Medical Kits.According to the ACC, the investigations have been on since August 2020.

It is for this reason that we are calling for thorough and speedy investigations and actionsto ensure that such shockingnegligence of duty to healthcare workers and the general public is not repeated.

We also call upon the technocrats and staff at all levels to uphold the highest levels of professionalism and integrity during the execution of their duties at all times with zero tolerance to corruption and any other malpractice. We remind all civil servants that It is very Biblical and honourable to disobey unlawful and unethical instructions and directives.

Our prayer goes to the affected citizens who, for the past five months, have been exposed to the sub-standard drugs. We urge all affected citizens to be vigilant and seek legal redress were this is applicable.
God bless Zambia and guide its leaders and citizens.

Rev. Canon Emmanuel Chikoya

GENERAL SECRETARY

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About Us

The Council of Churches in Zambia is an ecumenical umbrella organization of Christian churches that seeks to promote cooperation and fellowship between Christian churches and organizations in the nation. We therefore seek to bring together members and stakeholders for consultation and discussions in an effort to help form an enlightened Christian opinion on all issues affecting the spiritual, social and physical well being of Zambians.

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