At the end of last year, North Hamgyong Province launched an unprecedently harsh inspection focused on how hospitals and other facilities manage their supplies of medicines and other medical products, Daily NK has learned.
Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Dec. 26 that the provincial branch of the Ministry of Public Health began the inspection on Dec. 12 to review the practices of “local medical supply management offices and provincial, municipal, and county-level hospitals and clinics.”
While inspections and reviews of agencies that handle medical supplies occur every December, “the authorities are carrying out a much harsher inspection this year, with cases related to two agencies already being turned over to prosecutors for punishment,” he said.
In particular, the provincial branch of the Ministry of Public Health closely examined if public health agencies and facilities correctly managed the drugs in their possession and accurately recorded their use in their ledgers.
Local hospital staff and medical teams expressed fear they might get caught up in the unprecedentedly harsh inspection.
“Because medical supplies are always in short supply, hospitals paid little attention to managing their drugs – and many places didn’t keep up their ledgers – so hospitals and medical teams are frightened following the sudden launch of this intense inspection,” the source said.
In fact, the managers of one medical supply office in Chongjin faced an investigation after the authorities discovered they used drugs from a pharmaceutical factory without verifying their quality or efficacy and falsified medicine use records.
The inspection found that local pharmaceutical factories had sold drugs deemed unusable to pharmacies and hospitals at low prices, and local hospitals were found to be failing to store medicines in designated locations.
During the course of the inspection, the provincial branch of the Ministry of Public Health regularly reported the investigation’s results to the provincial party committee, and provincial and city prosecutors used the results to launch their own probes.
For example, prosecutors investigated all medical supply management offices, pharmacy, and hospital employees found to have sold cold medicine, antibiotics, and other medications to market sellers. Furthermore, prosecutors were handed cases of doctors who arbitrarily prescribed narcotic pain medication such as morphine without prescriptions.
“The arbitrary management of medical supplies is certainly a problem that directly impacts patient safety, but cases of hospitals pilfering medicines in violation of regulations is particularly bad,” provincial public health officials said, according to the source. “We’ll uncover all these acts and severely punish them.”
“The situation in Chongjin, the province’s biggest city, is this bad, so it goes without saying what other cities, counties, and villages are like,” the source said. “The inspection will likely lead to punishments for officials in facilities and agencies that have failed to manage their medical supplies properly.”
Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.
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January 05, 2024 at 01:30PM
by DailyNK(North Korean Media)