WINDHOEK – Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula says the ministry is working on procuring essential medicines directly from manufacturers in order to reduce delays resulting in patients not getting their medications on time at health facilities.
In an interview with New Era last week, Shangula said there are however problems that the health ministry needs to resolve with the Ministry of Finance in order for the direct purchases to be effected.
“…We are facing some problems which we need to resolve with the Ministry of Finance because the law does not allow this to happen, so we are trying to see how best we can do that and once we do this, it means we will get the price directly from the manufacturer and it’s cheaper,” he said. “Currently, suppliers add their mark-up price. So we’ll have about 30 percent in savings,” Shangula told New Era.
Essential medicines include antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), high blood pressure medication, vaccines and most of the very critical medicines, the minister said.
He explained that delays in patients sometimes getting their medication is as a result of suppliers who may not necessarily order and deliver the medications on time to the Central Medical Stores (CMS).
This results in the CMS not being able to supply health facilities with the medication and as a result, patients may not get their medications when they go to health facilities. Last week, New Era learned from patients that there was no high blood pressure medication in some health facilities in Windhoek.
“Sometimes there is a problem between the manufacturer and the supplier and that would affect us here. For essential medicine, this process may be a stumbling block. So, what we are arranging to do is to procure essential medicines directly from the manufacturers bypassing suppliers. It means that we will get (medicines) directly from the manufacturer and supply to the health facilities,” Shangula explained.
He explained that CMS is the health ministry’s main facility, which gets medicine from suppliers. Through tenders, suppliers order various medicines, explained the minister.
“For example, one supplier may only supply or procure antibiotics and pain medication while another may procure and supply high blood pressure medication. Another supplier may, for example, provide anti-diabetic medication. We have so many of them. Once CMS gets the medication, they distribute to the various health facilities, explained the minister. If a supplier does not supply to the CMS, it means that CMS will not be able to supply the hospital,” revealed Shangula. He also revealed that last week, he had a meeting with suppliers to address the problem of not supplying the medicines on time.
“I had a meeting with the distributors and I told them that we are taking their blame because they don’t supply us but the public does not know them, they only know the ministry. We cannot provide to the hospitals if distributors do not provide. That is the problem we have because one may source from India. Now it takes maybe 12 weeks before it reaches and only after that, we can distribute. Or when they source from there (manufacturers) they are told that the medicines are not in stock and they have to be manufactured so there is another delay. Before these suppliers give us the medicines on time, we will experience some type of problem.
He also refuted allegations that there are no medicines in hospitals, clinics, and health centres. “That is blatantly not correct. It might be finished in one health facility but it does not mean we don’t have it in the country,” he said.
2019-06-17 10:55:03 3 months ago