WINDHOEK - In an attempt to address identified shortcomings in the health sector, the government has ordered a total of 760 stock or line items through the recent exemptions starting October.
These comprise of clinical supplies and pharmaceuticals.
Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula on Thursday said at least 50 percent or 380 line items of these orders have already been delivered.
“As from the second week of January, the rest of the orders are coming in steadily, following the holiday season hiatus,” he announced.
Matters related to the availability – and more specifically the non-availability of pharmaceuticals and clinical supplies in public health facilities – have generated a lot of news and social commentary.
Hence, Shangula said they are working with the Central Procurement Board to put long-term supply agreements in place with service providers.
This, he says, will be done transparently and openly through a competitive process as required by law.
In April last year, a tender for the supply of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) was awarded to a local supplier Dore Pharmaceuticals and Mylan, an international manufacturer of pharmaceuticals.
This, according to him, has stabilised the supply of these medications to a large extent.
Further, he confirmed the ministry also sought and obtained exemptions from treasury to procure greater volumes of pharmaceuticals and clinical supplies beyond the threshold imposed by the Public Procurement Act.
Also, he noted approval was granted for the ministry to procure vaccines, antibiotics, family planning medicines and selected ARVs, which were not offered under the ARV long-term contract through the Pooled Procurement Mechanisms of UNICEF, UNFPA, Global Drug Facility, Global Fund Pooled Procurement and the SADC Pooled Procurement Mechanism.
“Procuring through the Pooled Procurement Mechanisms will save the country between N$60 million and N$100 million. An analysis of the quantities of listed vaccines, anti-TB medicines, ARVs and reproductive health products – relative to the prices currently being paid by the ministry (CMS) as opposed to the prices via pooled procurement mechanisms – reveal that Namibia could save millions of dollars annually if these products are procured through the PPMs,” Shangula reported.
Additionally, he maintained the procurement of vaccines through the UNICEF Pooled Procurement Mechanism was finalised on 20 December. On this transaction alone, he announced they have realised significant savings amounting to more than N$14.6 million.
He said the quantities under this mechanism would cover the country’s needs for up to 12 months, adding delivery will be staggered and will commence in March.
He indicated long-term agreements serve a dual purpose of saving money by doing away with buyouts and emergency procurement, while ensuring reliable and predictable supplies and scheduled deliveries.
Equally, he emphasised the importance to note that long-term contracts include penalty clauses and require delivery guarantees.
Shangula believes enforcement of these clauses strengthens the ministry’s hand to demand accountability from the suppliers.
In the case of once-off purchase orders generated for buy-outs and emergency procurement, he explained such provisions do not exist, which has disadvantaged the ministry for too long.
“And it goes together with the great concern we have with respect to non- or poor performance by some of the suppliers who fail to deliver. Going forward, the ministry will act sternly against suppliers who default on their commitment to deliver in terms of the delivery period undertakings for orders awarded by the ministry,” he warned.
In fact, he said they would exclude habitual defaulters from participating in bids in line with the provisions of applicable laws.
Furthermore, he vowed the ministry will strictly monitor benchmark prices and will not pay unreasonable and inflated prices for the items they order.
Moreover, he announced that deliveries have started to arrive at Central Medical Stores for the pharmaceuticals and clinical items procured through the exemption granted last year.
These include items such as antihypertensives amiloride and perindopril (high blood pressure medicines) that were out of stock in health facilities for some time.
He said they are being distributed to facilities around the country.