Amidst scathing criticisms and problems involving supplies of pharmaceuticals to hospitals and health centres, the Ministry of Public Health has announced plans to implement a new management system countrywide to reduce the possibilities of shortages.
“We are also almost 99 percent complete (with) the new structure that we will put in place to monitor the receipts and issue and transfers and write off of drugs and gifts received. So I am hoping that by the end of this month I will be able to present that to Cabinet,” Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, disclosed in an interview with state media.
The new system will allow pharmacists and other officials responsible for the distribution of medical supplies to reflect a more accountable monitoring system. Lawrence made it clear that that, under the system, there will be more stringent monitoring and record keeping of supplies received and distributed.
The minister said that the stricter monitoring of these supplies can contribute to fewer instances of drug shortages throughout the country.
The minister noted that the system would be rolled out in the various regions to ensure that there is monitoring and that the ministry can capture data on consumption patterns.
“So when we’re ordering, we’re ordering based on needs and not just ordering based on some other figures pulled from here or there,” Lawrence explained. The training and employment of pharmacists will complement the newly implemented drugs and materials management system.
“We are also looking at putting some more pharmacists into the system; we believe that is going to help to alleviate the strain because a lot of the issues have to do with persons doing multiple jobs and so you have cross cutting,” she said.
According to Lawrence, a shortage of staff is affecting the proper monitoring of the medical supplies system. “So we are trying to ensure that we close those gaps and continue to work with the staff,” she said. The management system which will be put in place will provide detailed data and guidance on drugs and medical supplies from the stage of tendering to the final stages of distribution and consumption.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health is seeking to train and deploy more pharmacists, countrywide. This will complement the new management system.
Minister Lawrence said the officials from the ministry have looked at the tendering process noting that some changes have been made.
“In the coming week, we are going to have a meeting with all of the suppliers so they can know our new expectations and right there and then the tender documents, I’m told, will be made available so persons can begin to bid,” she said. The ministry will also be working along with the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) to ensure that there is sufficient access to critical and emergency drugs for purchasing. This will be done in tandem with suppliers.
When asked if persons guilty of drug mismanagement will be prosecuted, the minister said that the ministry only intends to build the capacity of those already in the system. Reports of drug shortages led the ministry to conduct a series of investigations to identify gaps and shortcomings at hospitals and storage facilities.
Lawrence said that the Ministry of Public Health is committed to, and will continue to engage with the Regional Health Officers and pharmacists along with key officials from the Ministry of Communities, to ensure that the new management system is successfully implemented in all regions eventually eliminating drug shortages in Guyana
In recent weeks there were two incidents of missing drugs- at the West Demerara Regional Hospital and the Suddie Hospital, Essequibo Coast. At the Suddie Hospital, days after a quantity of drugs were delivered, some went missing. An investigation has been launched.
In another case, it appeared that a racket was being run to sell drugs from the West Demerara Hospital.
The procurement of pharmaceuticals and others supplies for state hospitals and health centres have been troublesome for consecutive administrations with several billions of dollars allocated annually for purchases.
There were accusations of sole sourcing and non-delivery too. The administration had vowed to clean up the system but the accusations of wrongdoings have continued.
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