Deliberate moves have been set in motion by Government to improve the procurement and information systems capacity of the Ministry of Public Health.
In this regard, Government has announced that it has granted its approval for the participation of senior personnel of the Public Health Ministry to participate in a study tour to the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation [PAHO/WHO] office in Washington D.C. The study tour spanned the period February 5 -9, 2018. Yet another study tour to Belize commenced yesterday and is slated to end on Friday.
The PAHO/WHO-organised study tours announcement was made by Minister of State Joseph Harmon during last week’s post cabinet press briefing. He disclosed that the study tour to Washington dealt with the organisation of the health sector and placed emphasis on the study of human resources for health procurement and the PAHO strategic fund.
The visit to Belize on the other hand, he explained, was intended to build capacity of key personnel of the Ministry in the areas of procurement and information systems.
Among those who were identified for the crucial exposure were: Mr. Chetram Phoenix, the Principal Personnel Officer; Mr. Phillip Bryan, Manager of the Procurement Unit; Mr. Cecil Jacques, Director of the Material Management Unit; Mr. Chris Squires, Acting Head Information System; Mr. Tameshwar Narine, Software Coordinator and Ms. Juanita Jaundoo, Manager, National Health Information System.
Speaking during the debate ahead of the recent passage of the national budget, Senior Public Health Minister, Ms. Volda Lawrence, spoke extensively of measures that were being put in place to improve procurement within her Ministry. She spoke of moves to establish the procurement department which has the responsibility for the acquisition of drugs and medicines that meet prescribed safety and health standards at a cost effective price.
The department, she said, has its full complement of staff; a USAID-trained and experienced Manager, Supervisors and Support Staff, who will ensure that the Ministry follows the guidelines stipulated in the Procurement Act and adheres to the principles of the segregation of duties.
She had pointed out that in this way, the Ministry and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation can withstand scrutiny, and function with transparency and integrity.
Moreover, she noted that great emphasis has been placed over the years on the purchasing of drugs, and less on the distribution of drugs. In other words, the Minister had observed that the arrival of the drugs at its final destination has not been efficiently monitored, resulting quite often in so-called shortages of drugs.
For this reason, she said that the Ministry was putting systems in place that will account for the transportation of drugs and medicines from the Bond until it arrives at its final destination. In this way, the Ministry will be better positioned to account for the availability of specific drugs, Lawrence had explained.
Further she’d disclosed how the Ministry was gearing to collaborate with PAHO/WHO and E-governance, and is embarking on enhancing the health information system in order to effectively collect and retrieve timely and accurate data and reports, in keeping with the Ministry’s strategic Health Vision 2013-2020.
It is the Ministry’s perception, the Minister said, that informed decisions can only be made on evidence-based data. The aim therefore, Minister Lawrence had informed, is to strengthen the information system, by improving the data collection which will allow for the coordination and harmonisation of the various aspects of patient care towards effective resource allocation and care management in all public health facilities.
Further, she added, was the move towards enabling standardized and complete documentation of patient’s health information in order to increase capacity for surveillance, reporting and decision-making activities.
It is expected that with the exposure of the senior personnel, during the study tours, the Ministry will be in an even better position to address its procurement and information systems effectively.
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