This has put the hospitals under permanent crisis of drug shortage, with poor patients always being referred to buy prescribed doses from private chemists.
Fed up with the problem, the community through their vigilante group commonly referred to as Sungu Sungu launched their own investigations into the scam.
Their probe later bore fruit after they found one of the suspects believed to be part of the racket in possession of an assortment of government drugs, syringes, needles and malaria testing kits in his house located within Masaba division.
The man confessed that he had obtained them from Masaba Heath Centre but defended himself saying he had kept them “for emergency to treat sick villagers”.
The suspect, who is not a trained medical practitioner, was later handed over to the Administration Police officers manning the local police post for further questioning.
His cargo was handed over to the officers. Some of the residents alleged that top management at the hospital were aware of the racket and were benefiting from it.
“This hospital virtually has nothing apart from panadol. All other drugs and items such as gloves we are told to buy from private chemists,” complained Benedict Matiko, area resident.
“We want the suspect to be taken to court immediately because some of the officers in this district have been compromised by the suspects,” he asserted.
Area county assembly member Abednego Marwa said he had held several meetings with the hospital management over the alleged sale of government drugs and they have only been promising investigations throughout.
“The discovery of the drugs has confirmed the residents’ fears and I am now taking up the matter with the higher authorities,” said Marwa.
However, the hospital officer-in–charge who only identified herself as Mrs Leonida said she had launched serious investigations into the matter.
“Claims that I may also be involved are not true and anybody with evidence to the contrary should come forward,” she said.
Police officers handling the case said the suspect will be arraigned in court soon after investigations are completed.
Some of the supplies are reportedly smuggled across the border to Tanzania where they are sold to proprietors of health facilities.Investigations showed that some traders erase the initials “GK” on labels on the packets and boxes to avoid them being noticed by the Ministry of Health inspectors or hawk eyed Kenyans.
“Most Government drugs are marked on their packets and containers although previously all the tablets from the State stores were clearly marked GK. This has enabled us to disguise them very easily,” said a trader who spoke on anonymity.
Some of the Ministry of Health workers are believed to be involved in this scam in which the Government has lost millions of shillings.
A senior Health official in Kehancha town disclosed that they were aware of the racket and were in the process of sealing the loopholes.
“It is true we have this problem and our proximity to the border has complicated matters. There were some cases we have received but are still investigating,” he said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
This article was originally published in the Reject Online Issue 87: Crisis in Maternal Health