Sep 18, 2020 News
– 60% of MMU at Diamond had items unfit for human use
Shortly after the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) administration assumed office in August, it had discovered some $742M worth in expired drugs stored within medical warehouses under the Ministry of Health.
This, and other concerning details, were shared by Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, during his budget debate presentation to the National Assembly yesterday.
It was during that presentation that the Health Minister indicated that over 1.6M items would have expired in the first eight months of the year, with some $200M scheduled to come to the end of their shelf life by December of this year.
As if this was not alarming enough, Dr. Anthony said that it will take another $3M to dispense of the expired and unwanted medical supplies—a task to be conducted by the Materials Management Unit (MMU).
If fully calculated, it would mean that close to $1B in drugs were wasted on expired medicine and supplies.
“Imagine my utter disbelief,” the Health Minister said, “when a quick survey was done with the Materials Management Unit (MMU) that on the 5th of August there were 206 items of medicine and medical supply that were out of stock.”
He added that there were 156 medical items with zero stock level.
The Minister said to the Speaker of the House, Members of Parliament (MPs) and listeners that it would have meant: “That the APNU+AFC government did not buy medicines for the people with high blood pressure in this country; it meant that the APNU+AFC did not buy medicines for patients who had heart problems in this country; it meant that the APNU+AFC government did not buy medicines for the diabetic patients; they did not buy medicines for the HIV patients. They did not buy medicines for TB patients; and no medicines for Malaria patients.”
Also reported were shortages of antibiotics in the system, as well as supplies such as x-ray films, bandages, oxygen nebulizers, thermometers, insulin syringes, all of which will now have to be procured on an emergency basis, the Minister told the House.
He further disclosed that the MMU medical warehouse at Diamond was filled to the brim, with no space for the equipment to move around to do efficient stock taking and picking of the medicines and supplies because of expired, obsolete and unusable items taking up the space.
“At the middle of August, about 60% of the space warehouse was taken up by expired medicines or medical supplies, or items deemed unfit for human use,” he said.
“Mr. Speaker, the story of stock-outs of medicine shortages of, of the expiration of medicine and medical supplies, of bond rentals tell a story of not just incompetence, not just of recklessness; it is a tale of heartlessness, indifference. It is a story that constitutes misconduct in public office,” the Health Minister argued yesterday.
To immediately rescue this situation, the government has allocated $3.2B to make the emergency purchase of drugs of medical supplies, the tenders of which opened yesterday.
To further stabilize the situation, the government has put into the budget some $14B which would ensure that there is an adequate stock of medicine and medical supplies.
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