The Ministry of Public Health is expected to implement a new management system for medical drugs and supplies, countrywide. This will allow pharmacists and other officials responsible for the distribution of medical supplies to reflect a more accountable monitoring system.
Hon. Volda Lawrence, Minister of Public Health
Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that 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.
“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 somewhere by the end of this month I will be able to present that to cabinet,” Lawrence said.
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 and 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,” Minister Lawrence explained.
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 where countrywide. This will complement the new management system.
In the interim, the ministry is exploring other options of addressing drug shortages in the shortest possible time.
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 Community, to ensure that the new management system is successfully implemented in all regions eventually eliminating drug shortages in Guyana