Mar 12, 2017 News
Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, has been able to establish the real reason
behind the drug shortage in the system. Lawrence blamed a conspiracy among some drug suppliers and public health ministry staff for the crisis in the sector.
In her missive to the media, Lawrence explained how she sought to address the matter. She said that she was “greeted with the news of a shortage of drugs in the system” upon her appointment and immediately held talks with Material Management Unit (MMU) staff of the Ministry of Public Health.
She said that she also visited several regional hospitals and met with the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation executives to correct the problem.
Three months after, Lawrence said that she was still uncovering a combination of skulduggery, collusion, delinquency, deliberate breaching of established sector protocols by Public Health staff, manipulation of the system by some importers with the support of employees and a fabrication of records including evidence of bogus receipts.
So pervasive is the practice that “We have had to call in the police to deal with staff who are selling drugs to private pharmacies,” Lawrence disclosed.
The Minister stressed that the current drug shortage was a ploy manufactured by “Some unprincipled importers and crooked Public Health staff to enrich themselves.”
She pointed to the widespread practice among some suppliers who wait until close to the contractual delivery date and then indicate their inability to supply the items for which they had been paid.
Others, she said, supplied a few of the items then refused to supply the remainder, blaming unexpected changes in the global market prices.
“This has created the supply gaps creating acute shortage especially in the outlying Regions,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said while the importers and the staff of the health sector are short-changing the public health sector the very items are available on the local market at very steep prices. These are offered by the same suppliers and their pharmaceutical clients.
The Minister of Public Health said that this has forced private health institutions nationwide to buy the now high-priced items in limited quantities to help meet the needs of their patients.
Lawrence stated that critical drugs in short supply at Guyana’s only tertiary referral hospital and available from suppliers whose products were of an inferior quality, were often compromised during production, transportation and delivery to the Public Health sector and sold at high prices.
She said that these poor quality pharmaceuticals have often-times negatively impacted the lives of patients and resulted in increased health care cost to the nation.
After meeting with public health officials around the country and at GPHC, the Minister was compelled in the interest of the health of the people of Guyana, to ensure that an adequate supply of drugs was immediately available in the country to meet the current crisis.
She said that this is what led to the recent procurement by the GPHC for emergency pharmaceuticals.
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