From a tea shop near G.W. Hospital in Sanniquellie
The Ministry of Commerce Nimba Inspectorate has seized huge quantities of medical supplies from a tea shop near the George Way Harley Hospital, the seat of the Nimba County Health Team, in Sanniquellie.
Making the disclosure on a local radio station, Commerce Inspector Alphonso Miamen said some of the confiscated items included four big cartons of hand gloves, a big carton of needles, and bags of infusion fluid (commonly known as drip) among others.
He said those drugs are ‘IDA Drugs’ usually supplied by the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health.
“What I have in my possession are four big cartons of hand gloves, a big carton of needles and other assorted medical supplies, all IDA materials,” he said.
Mr. Miamen said after arresting the medical materials, the owner of the tea shop was asked how he got them. But the man (tea shop owner) cajoled the Commerce Inspectors by telling them that he was going to call the owner of the medical materials but did not return.
“We are still pursuing him to give full account of how he got those medical materials, and we are going to get the police involved for speedy investigation,” Inspector Miamen said.
Reports also suggest that the drugs and materials in question were intended for the Zekepa Clinic, located in the southern part of Nimba County. On the boxes, Zekepa Clinic was said to be written on them, but Inspector Miamen remains tight-lipped on this particular information.
The shortage of drugs and medical supplies amid the COVID – 19 crisis has hit nearly all health facilities across Nimba, especially those located in remote villages, where vehicles hardly reach.
The recent announcement about arresting drugs and medical materials in a tea shop has sparked concerns, with advocacy groups calling on the Commerce Authority to speed up their investigation and bring the concerned parties to book.
“Drugs that are labeled Zekepa cannot be sold in a tea shop or any pharmacy around here, and it is only the County Health Team that has the right to handle such medical supplies,” said David Dahn of Transparency Reliant Unifying Equal Life, a civil society group in Nimba.
The group is also threatening to take the issue if the Commerce authority fails to conclude its investigation promptly.
“This means that drugs intended for our people in the interior have been diverted and sold to the detriment of the poor,” he added.