Persons caught pilfering drugs from the country’s public hospitals will be jailed. Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence made this pronouncement on Friday at the signing of the contract for construction of the new maternity ward at the New Amsterdam Hospital.The minister told the gathering that perpetrators will be jailed for a very long time,Minister Volda Lawrence addressing the gatheringas the situation has become unmanageable and is costing the Government large sums of money.“We just keep buying and buying, and it seems as though there’s a black hole somewhere that (the purchases) are falling into. Yes, I do think about the investment that we’re losing, but I also think of those poor brothers and sisters who will have to go without their medication because they turned up here and were told, ‘We do not have any’. Unlike many of us, they don’t have anywhere else to go or anyone else to turn to,” Minister Lawrence explained.The New Amsterdam Hospital has for years been plagued by drug shortages, and this situation has been directly linked to the suspected acts of pilfering.Minister Lawrence has called on employees of public healthcare institutions to be alert and report any suspicious activities, even as efforts are in place to provide new equipment and structures to boost the delivery of services.“I want to assure all of you that these matters will be addressed, so I’m going to ask you to be vigilant; we’re all in this thing together,” she declared.The Government has allotted $33.3 billion in its 2018 budget for the health sector. From this amount, over $2.2 billion will be spent on drugs and medical supplies for hospital and health centres across the country.