– As Health Vision 20/20 is launched
By Rehanna Ramsay
While, controversy continues to surround the distribution of pharmaceuticals by New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation, (New GPC) to national health facilities, President Donald Ramotar yesterday, expressed concerns over the shortage and wastage of drugs.
The shortage and wastage have plagued the smooth operations of public health institutions countrywide.
Speaking at the launch of “Health Vision 20/20— A National Health Strategy for Guyana 2013-2020,” yesterday, the Head of State deemed the issue “totally unacceptable.”
In his address to the Health Practitioners and other stakeholders at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal, President Ramotar stressed the importance of implementing an adequate executive board at the helm of the health sector, as well as a workforce with the correct attitude towards providing the service.
Ramotar said that he had raised the issue with the Health Minister and the Permanent Secretary following complaints by ordinary citizens about shortage of drugs.
“I do hope that we are picking the right people for the right jobs… We spend billions of dollars every year to buy drugs yet we are confronted with shortage of drugs at health facilities nationwide… millions of dollars of expired drugs are written off and dumped in large quantities…This is totally unacceptable.”
The President questioned whether the Ministry of Health has records of how pharmaceuticals should be purchased and used.
“Don’t we have an idea how drugs are being used, how they are being purchased?”
He highlighted the fact that Guyana is one of 17 countries, in which the poverty level of the population has reduced. “Imagine how much more can be done if we didn’t have this wastage?”
Ramotar said that management should take into consideration the post graduate programme and other scholarship that are being offered at a heavy cost to taxpayers, when delivering the service.
He explained that 30 per cent of the National budget is divulged to the social sector, with the health sector utilizing a sizeable amount—this year $19 billion has been utilized by the Health sector.
The President also expressed concerns over the incidence of maternal deaths, which has resulted in the loss of human resources as he challenged the Ministry of Health’s management team to take those concerns into account because the social sectors are interconnected.
“Resources are not unlimited and there is a lot of need out there,”
The President urged Health Workers to understand, appreciate and be more careful in how they handle government resources.
New GPC, which is controlled by Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, has been the sole distributor of medical supplies to the state-owned health institutions, over the past several years.
The government had faced criticism by both the private and public sectors over its choice of allowing New GPC the sole authorization to procure and distribute the nation’s pharmaceuticals, since it has amounted to billions of dollars in losses.
Additionally, the Auditor General had reported huge discrepancies regarding the manner in which government has been procuring drugs.
The issue had also resulted in queries in relations to the procurement process of pharmaceuticals by the main political opposition parties, AFC/APNU.
Yet the inadequate supply of drugs and the dumping of large quantities of expired medication continue.
Health Vision 20/20 is a strategic plan drafted by the Ministry of Health with the objective acquiring “equitable and timely access to affordable drugs and medical supplies” through various steps, which is critical to the achievement of Guyana’s health goals.
According to Health Vision 2020- A National Health Strategy for Guyana 2013-2020″ the Ministry of Health will make strategic interventions to review and update the essential drug list in 2015 and 2018, and will monitor compliance of standard treatment guidelines to ensure rational use of medicines.
The Ministry of Health plans to implement measures to strengthen the procurement and supplies chain management by establishing standard operational procedures for the procurement of medical supplies, by developing arrangements for pooled procurement through the PAHO process and by assessing and addressing gaps in storage infrastructure in health facilities in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.
Health Vision 20/20 is a long term plan which seeks to put in motion a landscape for the implementation of improved systems of health for all Guyanese.
The Ministry of Health intends to create an enabling framework for full participation and a collaborative effort which will result in the delivery of quality effective and responsive delivery of Health services.
Chief Medical officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said that under Health Vision 20/20 more emphasis will be placed on health literacy, and adequate implementation of heath legislations.
“We will also be putting systems in place for the prevention of Non Communicable Diseases NCDs, which is the number one killer among Guyanese.
“Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients, diagnosed with NCDs which are generally lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases…”
Minister of Health, Dr Bheri Ramsaran, noted that key stakeholders such as the Guyana Medical Association and Guyana Nurses Association will be instrumental in the implementation of Health Vision 20/20.
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