Health cuts out tenderpreneurs

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Health cuts out tenderpreneurs

The shortage of medicines and clinical supplies will soon be something of the past as the health ministry started to procure medicine and clinical materials directly from suppliers.

This was announced by the health minister Kalumbi Shangula yesterday in Otjiwarongo during the occasion of the annual national pharmaceutical services forum. 

Shangula explained that the ministry has been experiencing erratic supplies of both medicines and clinical items due to the absence of long-term contracts
for proper planning and predictability. 

“This situation has led to shortages of critical medicines
and clinical items in hospitals, health centres and clinics. This has been going on for some time
now, even forcing multiple buy-outs at a very high cost,” he explained.

Following that predicament, Shangula explained that the ministry has resorted to working together with the minister of Finance and Public Enterprises, and the Central Procurement Board to resolve the problem.

“The ministry is procuring medicines and clinical supplies directly from suppliers to last for four months. Parallel to this
process, the Central Procurement Board will arrange for the procurement of these items to last for seven months. At the same time, the Central Procurement Board will put in place a multi-year contract for three years. With these arrangements in place, shortage of medicines and clinical supplies will be something of the past,” the minister substantiated. 

The Pharmaceutical Services Forum is an annual platform created to bring together managers, technical staff and practitioners in the pharmaceutical field to engage and compare notes and experiences to enable the ministry to improve service delivery.

He called on the gathering to embrace innovation and said incorporating digital solutions will not only enhance efficiency but also improve patient services.

 “Technology continues to revolutionise the way we deliver healthcare services, and pharmacists are at the forefront of this transformation,” he said.

The minister also used the platform to inform the public about the procurement of four trucks for the central medical stores (CMS) to improve capacity for the transportation and distribution of pharmaceuticals and clinical supplies across the country. 

Namibia operates a product-integrated pharmaceutical supply chain where the CMS, a division within the directorate of pharmaceutical services in the ministry, is responsible for the planning, storage, and distribution of all pharmaceuticals and clinical supplies.

According to Shangula, before the procurement of the four trucks, the fleet of distribution vehicles at CMS consisted of only five government-owned trucks. 

“These trucks are old and have high odometer readings. This not only makes the running costs of the fleet very high, but the aged fleet was also woefully insufficient to
support an increased delivery frequency. 

As a result, the trucks were also prone to frequent breakdowns, often leading to delays in the delivery cycle,” he ruled out. 

The CMS distribution network provides pharmaceutical and clinical supplies directly to about 40 health facilities on a six-weekly cycle.

In addition to the 40 health facilities, 21 out of the 29 district hospitals; four intermediate hospitals, a national tertiary referral hospital, and two regional medical stores are also part of the distribution cycle.

“To address the challenges related to the increase in demand for services coupled with the ageing fleet, the ministry decided to improve the delivery fleet’s capacity through the procurement of these new trucks. One of the trucks was procured in 2021 and the latest three arrived in 2023. The total cost of these trucks is approximated at N$10.6 million. 

This cost is inclusive of the necessary modification to make the truck fit for the purpose. This addition to the fleet will go a long way to support our goal to increase the frequency of delivery of life-saving medicines and clinical supplies to health facilities across the country,” he explained.