A defect that has served to inhibit sufficient absorption in diabetes test strips has caused a recall to be prompted. As a result, the Food and Drug Department of the Ministry of Health is currently on a mission to inform local consumers that the US FDA and Abbott Diabetes Care have recalled 359 different lots of Glucose test strips.
The recalled strips, according to the Food and Drug Department, have been marketed under the brand Precision Xceed Pro, Precision Xtra, Precision Point of Care, Precision G3b, Smartblue, MediSense Optium, Optium EZ, and ReliOn Ultima.
And it has been revealed that the strips may give falsely low blood glucose results which can lead patients to try raise their blood glucose where it is unnecessary or to fail to treat elevated blood glucose due to falsely low reading. Both scenarios, it was noted, can pose tremendous health risks to persons living with diabetes.
But even in the face of this dilemma, the local Health Ministry is continuing an ambitious approach to reduce the negative impact of diabetes.
Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy had said that just last year that more than $300M is expended on an annual basis to procure diabetic medicine and supplies which are distributed free of cost to patients as part of the local Ministry of Health’s effort to control the health problem.
And although the Ministry has been able to increase its diagnostic capacity and has improved its management system, the Minister divulged that the health sector is yet under pressure to ensure that there are no shortages when it comes to the availability of diabetic medications.
He pointed out, though, that while Guyana is striving to improve its capacity there are still countries in the Caribbean where people still have to pay for their medication. “We have had to develop competency in procurement, storage and distribution. There was a time when we had enormous shortages but we no longer have enormous shortages.”
He however disclosed that the sector has had glitches whereby there have not been enough insulin because of world market shortages or because a shipment was late. The Minister admitted that there was a time when the Ministry was not in a position to guarantee people supplies, a situation which has improved tremendously.
According to him, the procurement and distribution system has established a priority medication and supply process which caters to a number of diseases including diabetes. And should the process not function optimally, Minister Ramsammy noted that there are stipulated penalties.
“The only time we are excusing our materials and management union for not getting supplies is if we do not supply them with the money…and I believe that we are providing them with enough money and therefore they have to justify shortages.”
“For me there is no justification today for shortages for insulin for the diabetic and for supply in terms of diagnosis. So we are under pressure…Those of us working in the sector, we must ensure there are no shortages when it comes to diabetes,” the Minister warned.
He added that as long as there are medicine listed in the essential drug list and the diagnostic supplies are listed they will be procured by the Ministry. In terms of management system, the Minister disclosed that the Ministry has added glycosylated haemoglobin management programme as a public sector service.
“It is part of our management; it is part of the public sector package of service; it is part of our laboratory services so that all regional hospitals should have the laboratory setting and I can tell you as Minister that I have made those equipment available.
“It is not yet routine but it is not because of the Ministry of Health, it is because of difficulties at the local levels.”
The Minister had asserted that by the end of last year the Ministry would not have been accepting any excuse from any hospital that does not have glycosylated haemoglobin management capacity as a routine service.
In the meantime, he said that such a process can be offered through a referral service at the National Reference Laboratory. According to the Minister, for a poor country, Guyana is undertaking an enormous task to have glycosylated haemoglobin as a laboratory management tool in the public sector for free, adding that virtually every other country it is only available through a payment scheme.
He said that “we in Guyana cannot underestimate the provisions that have been put in place for the prevention and management of diabetes.”
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