Minister Trotman reports on sub-committee’s findings on off-site medical storage facility

Georgetown, GINA, August 11, 2016

Chairman of the sub-committee established last evening, by President David Granger to investigate the off-site medical storage facility contracted by the Ministry of Public Health, Minister Raphael Trotman, this morning reported on his findings as he was given a 48- hour reporting period.

Addressing media operatives at the Ministry of the Presidency, the Natural Resources Minister explained that the report is to be officially presented to President Granger, “so I wouldn’t go into the details, but I wish to go to some of the recommendations that have been made.”

The issue with the Sussex Street bond facility came up for the first time in the National Assembly on August 8 when the Committee of Supply examined the supplementary provisions requested by the Government for money for several state agencies and projects. The Ministry of Public Health was one of the agencies questioned by the opposition.

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman.

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman.

Minister Trotman stated that the sub-committee appointed by President Granger comprised himself as the chairman, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Minister of State Joseph Harmon, immediately commenced work last evening by engaging Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, Trevor Thomas.

“Members of the committee did meet with both the ministers of public health and the permanent secretary, and were satisfied with answers given to questions put and understood better the context in which the minister made his comments,” he said.

Seven recommendations have been made. The immediate payment of outstanding monies owed to the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC) was one of such recommendations.

“The Cabinet sub-committee discovered from the PS that though the cheque had been prepared it had not been paid over. We’ve asked that the immediate payment be made. Secondly, we are recommending that the contract be reviewed. Cabinet may choose the AG to do a review of the contract for the lease of the bond in Sussex Street,” Minister Trotman advised.

Another recommendation will see a greater role played by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, where buildings are leased, bought or constructed for or on behalf of the Government of Guyana.

The committee chairman further explained that, “in view of the statements made by the Minister of Public Health, and based on his explanations which we have accepted, that he gives perhaps a public apology to explain that the statements made were in the context of the advice he received.”

The Committee is also advising in its report that the media be given copies of all the relevant documents which are appendices to the report including correspondences between the Government of Guyana and the New GPC Inc., copies of the lease and photographs. The media will also be allowed to tour the facility.

With regard the facility, the Minister advised that the committee members toured the Sussex Street facility and found that it is capable of storing pharmaceuticals and drugs since it meets the World Health Organisation (WHO) requirements.

“I was in the building to ascertain whether drugs are stored there, however, it was discovered that in fact that building was prepared and was about to receive its first shipment of drugs when the proposal was made for central air conditioning. There are about 10 or more ACs in place already, but for the purposes of redundancy and to ensure that we had a backup, a request had been made for central air conditioning, in addition to individual units so a decision was taken not to make the delivery to the bond and to hold back to allow for the central air conditioning to be installed,” the Minister advised.

Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton.

Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton.

The committee members saw that the building has all the necessary facilities as would be expected in a facility to store drugs and pharmaceutical products.

“It has a walk in cold storage area, it has a security area, it has a backup generator which kicks in within 10 seconds of a blackout, it has 24-hour security both physical and electronic, it has an electronic forklift facility because the guidelines says you should not have fumes from diesel of gas petrol machines operated in such environment and neither should you have fuel or oil or lubricant contaminating the environment so it does in fact have all the necessary facilities one would expect for a bond to store drugs and pharmaceuticals.”

Minister Harmon stated at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference that Minister Norton reported on the establishment of an off-site medical storage facility for his Ministry and the GPHC.

“Cabinet having listened very carefully to the representations made, agreed to appoint a sub-committee headed by Minister Trotman…to report to Cabinet within 48 hours of its findings and recommendations. It was on this basis that Minister Trotman reported the committee’s findings this morning.”