Medicine supplies essential

Editorial

ALL provincial governments should take the stand like East Sepik to order medicine from the International Dispensary Association (IDA).
IDA is a large-scale supplier of essential drugs and related medical supplies to the public sector in developing countries.
The public health system in PNG has been experiencing difficulties over the years in maintaining an effective medical supplies and distribution system, due primarily to a lack of a clear policy direction in the pharmaceutical sub-sector.
Our public health facilities such as hospitals, clinics, health centres and village health posts have continuously experienced stock-outs of basic medical supplies and drugs. Rural health facilities in particular have been faced with great difficulties in maintaining access to all essential drugs and other medical supplies.
Health and HIV/AIDS minister Elias Kapavore last week admitted medical supplies, procurement and distribution have been and continues to be one of the Government’s biggest challenge.
Not satisfied that the Government will be seeking overseas bidders to address the challenges, East Sepik Governor Allan Bird is going one step further by ordering the provinces medicine overseas.
A report by ABC in December 2013 quoted Dr Glen Mola, who at that time was the treasurer of the Medical Society of PNG, that the International Dispensary Association supplied medical kits to almost 3,000 health facilities across the country.
He told Radio Australia then that the person who contracted to distribute the medicine didn’t get paid unless they could take a digital photograph of the medicine arriving at the actual health facility at a time and a date that was verified by the health facility OIC.
Obviously there was no issue with shortage or late delivery. This now means, it is time to go back to that old system.
Today, hospitals in the country are affected with shortage of medicines mostly as a result of an administrative slip-up relating to procurement.
National planning and governance of the supply chain within PNG is hampered by difficulties as for national procurement, with problems relating to inadequate information on performance, as well as transparency and accountability. We concur with the National Doctors Association call for the Government to set up its own department to procure medical kits and medicine directly, either, from the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended agents, such as the (IDA) or equivalent, or directly from manufacturers in Asia, Australia, the US or Europe
Failing that, then all governors, if they are serious about addressing shortage of medical drugs in their provinces, should join forces with Bird and order directly from IDA or any WHO recommended agents.
That way, the Government will be forced to do something immediately about the issue. Either those responsible for the medicine procurement accountable for their actions or take on the NDA’s suggestion. All efforts should be on a coordinated approach from everyone from the national, to provincial and district level with ensuring there are sufficient supplies available at the stores, the request or ordering process and the dispatching including facilities to store the supplies.
Planning and effective management, as most senior officials are aware of, are important.
It does not take an Einstein to figure something like that out.
Medical supplies (drugs, dressings and equipment) are essential to an effective health service, regardless of how the service is provided or by whom.

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