Nov 19, 2015 News
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) spokesperson on Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, has identified a number of health centres across the country that is experiencing drug shortages.
He recently told the media that the PPP received reports that a number of drugs and consumables are short in the system. He said that the PPP is concerned because such shortages will certainly affect the care given to patients.
According to Dr. Anthony, the shortages mostly exist in Regions Five and Six. He said that those regions have shortages of Paracetamol syrup, X-ray films, syringes, dental needles, gloves, insulin syringes, sutures, cotton wool, catheters, and paediatric drip sets.
Dr. Anthony said, “We are receiving complaints that almost in every region, there are issues relating to the availability of drugs. In some cases, things that are so common and so essential, you would expect that we could get them in the system and make them available, are not. Paracetamol syrup for example, that’s something that we should always have at the health facilities.
“There seems to also be a shortage of X-ray films in quite a number of the regions. There have indeed been complaints that X-rays cannot be done because there are no films available.”
He added, “Whether they have them at the central bond and they’re not getting out to the region, that’s something we need to find out, or if they don’t have them in the system at all.”
Dr. Anthony noted that the supplies that are currently being used in the sector are those from 2014, and that monies allocated for 2015 have not yet been spent.
“From our information, almost right across the various regions, monies that were allocated for drug supplies have not been spent, or if anything is spent it is a very miniscule part of it.”
Dr Anthony reminded the media that during the budget debates, the PPP had warned that allocating large sums of monies to the regions for drugs and consumables will lead to problems. He said that reports from the regions are that these budgetary allocations remain largely untouched.
Government disclosed, during budget deliberations, that it adopted a new procedure for the regions to acquire its own drugs.
Following queries by the opposition, Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, explained that the budget allocations for the procurement of drugs for each region have diverted from the Ministry of Health and added to the regional allocations.
However, the Minister noted that while the regions will be given their own monies, the Ministry of Health is still responsible for procuring the drugs.
Region one alone was given $41 million.
Bulkan had said that the Regional Administration will have a greater say in what drugs and medications are needed on a priority basis.
He said that there is no guarantee that the amount allotted to the regions to purchase drugs will suffice, hence, further applications may have to be made for additional monies to meet the needs of the region.
He also said that the Ministry will be procuring additional drugs to disseminate to the regions.
Bulkan detailed that the drug requirement for each region will not be determined entirely by the Health Ministry, but by needs of the individual Regional Democratic Council (RDCs). He further stated that the Ministry of Health will then consolidate all those separate requests and make a bulk purchase.
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