THE Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC), a parastatal under the Ministry of Health and Child Care, could have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars through fraud by its workers who were illegally selling drugs and pocketing the money dating back to 2012, an internal audit report has revealed.
The audit carried out at ZNFPC-run Spilhaus Clinic at Harare Central hospital for the period December 24, 2013 to January 3, 2014 revealed the clinic was open when it was supposed to be on annual shutdown, with staff members pocketing cash for services they provided during that period.
During the period, the audit revealed that the clinic could have been prejudiced of US$92 368 in stock and cash. The auditors, however, noted that the scam had been going on for a long time.
“Audit has no doubt that the stock scam and provision of services during annual shutdown could have started as far back as 2012,” reads the audit’s conclusion.
The audit was carried out after the clinic’s management noted that the clinic was providing services when it was supposed to be on annual shutdown.
Auditors observed that for the year-end shutdown, there were no clock-in sheets which were completed while staff accessed council premises without authority letters from the human resources offices. The security officers did not have records of staff members who reported for duty.
Staff flouted internal control regulations in what auditors believe was a well-calculated move to defraud the health institution.
“There were no internal controls being observed on maintenance of the drug room as it was accessible to all members of the clinic staff. The dispensary of drugs was done from the sister-in-charge’s room and the drawer cabinets which housed the drugs had no keys for the better part of 2013, posing a risk to pilferage,” reads the audit report.
The auditors believe the reason why the drugs room keys were accessible was for staff to “share the blame” if the irregularities were noted by management.
The audit also established that the movement of stock from central stores to the clinic’s drug room was not being properly recorded, a development the auditors believe was meant to frustrate audit trails. As a result, several drugs could not be accounted for.
“At times drugs were recorded as issued from the drug room to the dispensary yet the dispensary did not receive the same quantities and vice-versa.
Sister Tendai Murwira informed auditors that drugs, which were not on high demand, were donated to Harare Central Hospital, but the auditors noted that there were no documented authorisations of the donations.
The auditors visited Harare Hospital to check if drugs had been donated and established that some of the drugs had not been received by the hospital.
Records at Spilhaus Clinic also indicated that some drugs were transferred to Fife Avenue Clinic, among them about 400- metronidazole and 35 clotrimazole cream but the drugs were never received by the institution.
The auditors expressed fear that the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), which was donating drugs to the institution, could withdraw its support because of the abuse.
“ZNFPC is one of the Unicef drug beneficiaries whose drugs are distributed through Natpham. It was noted that the drugs were received by the clinic’s sisters instead of the stores department and there was no documentation being kept by ZNFPC clinic staff on deliveries made during 2013,” reads the audit report.
“The deliveries were made by National Pharmaceutical and the auditors’ visit to that organisation revealed that all deliveries which were done had accompanying delivery/receipt vouchers, and the ZNFPC clinic staff was given its own copies which they signed for to acknowledge receipt.
However, Sister Murwira told auditors that there was no documentation on delivery while a nurse only referred to as Sister Nyahuye said the documents were lost and could not be replaced.
The auditors noted that the missing quantities of drugs were so huge “that suspicions of a readily available market is in no doubt”.
“Audit had no doubt that the reason why the guards were not invited to witness the receiving of drugs as per the norm in ZNFPC was to hide the stocks for personal benefit and defeat audit trail,” said the auditors.
They managed to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the clinic was open for business during annual shutdown after establishing that National Cytology assisted the clinic to offer Pap smear services.
“On average one client was paying US$35 to ZNFPC of which US$25 was for medication, US$5 for consultation and US$5 for procedure/management.”