Use PAC recommendations

Editorial

THE offer by Bismark Maritime to provide free sea transports of medical supplies to all seaports in the country is welcoming news following the presentation of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on the inquiry into the procurement, supply and distribution of medicines.
The offer frees the Health Department or any contractor off the wharfage and handling, plus stevedoring cost for the next 15 months until Dec 31, 2021.
Once at the sea ports, it is now the responsibility of the logistics companies under the management and supervision of the Health Department to further distribute to provinces through Area Medical Stores (AMS) and respective provincial health authorities.
This has always been the weakest link throughout the medicine supply chain that was identified in the inquiry.
The inquiry established that the failure to effectively manage the distribution system is a major concern and a challenge for the Health Department.
When medicines arrive at the ports or AMS, ensuring that they reach their intended destinations, remains the leading challenge.
Late last year in November 2019, a batch of 100 per cent medical kits arrived at the ports, but by March 2020; more than half these kits had not been delivered by the logistics companies.
The free freight and logistical services support by Bismark Maritime is timely for the Health Department to review and try to improve its distribution process.
Interestingly, the inquiry found that the state-owned entity Post PNG, the largest logistics and distribution company in the country has been persistently overlooked for contracts.
Post PNG is a state-owned national distributor, and should be given first priority to all nationwide distribution programmes.
The inquiry was told Post PNG has demonstrated its ability to successfully deliver under the Australian-funded programme in 2012 – 2013, and with real-time track and trace technology and a proof of delivery solutions.
The PAC inquiry recommended that a National Pharmaceutical Authority (NPA) be established and be responsible for the procurement and oversight of the supply and distribution of medicines and medical equipment in the country.
This authority will be responsible for the entire medical supply chain.
The authority will use a centralised distribution system and Post PNG should be the preferred distributor in this system.
The proposed system will commission Post PNG to deliver from the central warehouse in Port Moresby to all the 21 provinces throughout the country; and manage collection from health facilities.
They will renovate the post offices to facilitate medicine supply in all the provinces since the once filled and busy storage areas of the post offices now remain empty from the decline of physical mail and technological advances in communication.
The respective provincial health authorities and district authorities will collect from Post PNG and deliver the medicines to their respective medical facilities by their own means or through local distribution contractors.
The authority will ensure through contract discussions that Post PNG, provincial health authorities and districts can use and engage the PNG Defence Force to assist delivery in border provinces; and MAF who is already on the ground serving remote rural communities.
Unless, the Health Department has other cost-effective innovative options, recommendations by the PAC should be used when designing the national central medicine supply chain.

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