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Crime & PunishmentGeneralLiberia news

USAID indicts Liberian pharmacies

--Says 90% of Pharmacies sell stolen medicine

The USAID Mission says that pharmacies selling donated medicines mean that medicine is only available to patients with enough money to buy it.

By Lewis S. Teh

Monrovia, April 15, 2024: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) 2023 assessment indicted most pharmacies here for allegedly selling stolen medicine.

Exposing the scandal in Monrovia over the weekend, USAID Mission Director Mr. Jim Wright said the assessment discovered that about 90% of pharmacies sell stolen medicine that is being donated to Liberia.

Wright said this means that medicine is only available to patients that have enough money to buy them.

“In fact, an assessment last year showed that well over 90% of the pharmacies in Liberia sell stolen medicine,” said Mr. Wright.  

“That is unacceptable. That means that medicine is only available to patients that have enough money to buy them,” he said.

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Mr. Wright spoke at the launch of the “Campaign to Improve Supply Chain for Donated Medicines” Organized by USAID Liberia Civil Society Activity (CSA) Project in collaboration with the Civil Society Health Coalition.

Due to the pharmacists’ alleged sale of stolen drugs, the USAID mission head detailed that patients who don’t have enough money are left to suffer.

“This is unfair and immoral. USAID is committed to ending corruption and mismanagement within the public health supply chain for donated medications and stopping drug stockouts,” he continued.

According to him, ending the corruption in the public health sector can’t be carried out alone by USAID.

Instead, Mr. Wright stated that partnerships are the key to overcoming these challenges, and every stakeholder has a role to play.

He indicated that the Civil Society Health Coalition has already identified where the problems are, and this is helpful to them in understanding what they need to do to improve the supply chain system. 

“We proudly support these efforts through USAID’s Civil Society Activity. In fact, I would like to take a moment to recognize the extraordinary Liberian organizations that form the Coalition,” Wright said.

The six CSOs include Community Health Education and Social Services, Efficient Research and Development Institute, and Humanity Above One-Self Foundation.

The others are Public Health Initiative Liberia, Volunteers United for Development, and Youth Network for Positive Change.

Mr Wright told the audience that these CSOs have worked tirelessly to monitor distributions, resolve issues, advocate for system improvements, and raise awareness that donated medicines are free and should not be sold.

Mr. Wright termed the campaign launch as a pivotal moment in their collective efforts to address a critical issue affecting every Liberian’s health and well-being.

He used the occasion to thank the government, urging the need to recognize the tremendous efforts of Liberian healthcare workers.

Mr. Wright acknowledged the invaluable work of community health assistants in Liberia, adding that they play a crucial role in detecting and treating diseases like malaria. They contributed to Liberia’s success in cutting childhood malaria cases in half, with support from the U.S.

Mr. Wright indicated that in the president’s Malaria Initiative last year, life-saving medicines and other medical supplies worth 14 million US dollars were donated to the people of Liberia by the (USAID) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

He pointed out that those essential health products significantly reduce preventable deaths.

The USAID envoy expressed conviction that the Government of Liberia will also benefit from constructive partnerships with the Coalition, citing the example of Liberia’s National Public Health Initiative.

“To make a meaningful and sustainable impact on reducing fraud, the Government of Liberia must also assume more responsibility for ensuring accountability,” he said.

He added that the recent indictment of former Margibi County Health Team members and other complicit parties for corruption is a step in the right direction. 

Mr. Wright stated that the next important step that the government should embark on is prosecution, and if the accused are found guilty, they must be punished by the law.

Reacting to the USAID Mission Director’s allegations, Bong County Pharmacist Mr. George Dokie said it was unfair for the USAID mission head to have accused pharmacies of selling stolen medicine in the country.

“Pharmacists are not criminals. I want to debunk the USAID mission head’s characterization of pharmacies. At no point in time [was] any pharmacist … caught stealing or selling donated medicine,” said Mr. Dokie.

He challenged the USAID mission head to bring forth his evidence pointing to pharmacists stealing.

“We can’t be criminals; this is the second time these people have referred to us in this manner,” he lamented.

He recalled that former US Ambassador Michael McCarthy similarly accused them.

“I want our people to know that statement is a blanket statement because we pharmacists are not criminals,” he added.

Making a short PowerPoint presentation, a member of the Civil Society Health Coalition, Ms. Joyce Kilikpo, said the CSA health coalition comprises six different CSOs that are working across six of Liberia’s fifteen counties.

She named Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Bassa Counties.

The campaign launch brought together delegates from the six counties, government officials from line ministries and agencies, and partners.

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7 Comments

  1. Pharmacies and pharmacist are not the same.
    USAID needs to step up how aid is provided.

  2. Have the perpetrators been identified? If so, why not make their names public to ensure they’re prosecuted? Simply making a blanket statement that more than 90 percent of pharmacies Liberia sell stolen medicines isn’t helping anyone. What are the authorities doing to stop it? Have those pharmacies been sanctioned? Will they be sanctioned? You didn’t make that clear. What do want the law-abiding citizens to do about it? Or, you appealing to the “bad guys” to quit stealing and selling donated drugs? Note: Unless the laws are enforced and given teeth that bites, the status quo will persist. Thieves will continue to steal, corruption in high places will persist, and Liberians will always bear the brunt of it all. Talk is cheap. The time for action is now!!👮🏾👮🏽‍♀️

  3. It would behoove the Agency to list the accused pharmacies. If this is true, why not sanction these people? This is a national security threat.

  4. A friend of mine is over there for that reason helping the health dept for USAID. ITS ASHAMED THEY HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS. THEY’RE OVER THERE PURPOSELY TO MAKE SURE Everyone HAS GOOD HEALTH. THE GOVERMENT SHOULD HELP MORE. GOOD LUCK JEROME GRIFFIN I HOPE YOURE HELP IS NOT FOR NOTHING. GOD BE WITH YOU

  5. Really? Did you just figure that out? It also includes medical equipment that was donated; government/hospital official are using them in their useless private clinics or selling them. That goes for everything that is donated or bought by the so-called government.

  6. I am surprised that well learned people would chose to implicate a group of professionals without hard facts but guessing g statements like “over 90% sell stolen..” and “pharmacists sell donated products…” in Liberia.
    I am wondering if the embassy ever called the professional pharmacists body for some information required by them, or they, the embassy, want to do business as usual to fuel their pockets and give peanuts to some groups wanting recognition from them.
    It is a gross disrespect to our country when no survey nor any investigation proving pharmacists guilty, that a person would bd- mouth a respected body because they want to be seen or heard.
    I would recommend that the US Embassy published the findings from the survey and investigate the pharmacists/pharmacies so that this act of stealing donated medication would stop. Rather than giving a blanket statement that would destroy the hard-earned reputation of our colleagues.

  7. Automate the entire donation, distribution and management system; digitize it. Use technical means to undermine moral weakness.

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