Public Health Budget approved late Thursday evening

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, December 14, 2017

$23.455B was late last evening approved for the Ministry of Public Health after extensive considerations on day four of the examination of the 2018 budget estimates. Ministers of Public Health Volda Lawrence and Dr. Karen Cummings were questioned by Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) about monies allocated to the various programmes.

The Public Health Ministry carries out its functions through seven programmes namely, Policy Development and Administration, Disease Control, Family Health Care Services, Regional and Clinical Services, Health Sciences Education, Standards and Technical services and Disability and Rehabilitation services.

Under each programme, Opposition MPs focused heavily on the procurement of drugs and medical supplies as well as ensuring its quality. As the allocations for current expenditure were also scrutinised, a number of documents with staffing details were requested by the opposition to be laid in parliament.

MP Dr. Frank Anthony specifically requested documents entailing drug and medical supply procurement details and standard documents for the provision of quality items. The senior Public Health minister assured that these details will be made available.

Under some programmes, the minister stated that of all drugs acquired, some would have been sole-sourced from a pre-qualified list of providers while others were accessed through the open competitive bidding process.

Additionally, she said in 2018, $2.1B will be sent to the central ministry from all the administrative regions for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies. Minister Lawrence also indicated that due to the new procurement system for these items, bids for drugs and medical supply provision for the GPHC in 2018, have already been opened in 2017.

Meanwhile, MP Dr. Vindhya Persaud noted that there had been significant under-performance in the Regional and Clinical Service programme. Focusing on the GPHA Dr. Persaud pointed out that several budgetary allocations for regional projects were either not touched or underutilised.

Citing the spending of monies on the completion of the Port Kaituma Hospital as an example, Minister Lawrence explained that this is due to contractual inefficiencies. The minister said, that after interventions by the Auditor and Attorney General, such projects among others will be efficiently completed in 2018.

A sum of $143.5M has been set aside under capital expenditure for the completion of the ministry’s head office in Brickdam and the $100M for the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD)

Other areas of scrutiny under the Ministry of Public Health include rental of buildings, the construction of new building and facilities in 2018, payment of salaries to different categories of staff and the maintenance of administrative and medical equipment.

Minister Cummings, who answered for Programmes Six and Seven, agreed to lay over most of the information as requested by the Opposition. However, the minister outlined that there is need to build staff capacity under the standards and technical services programme.

There is also training for the Institutional strengthening of the Ministry of Public Health officials and other public healthcare providers.

As a result, the following programmes received:

Policy Development and Administration – $ 1.789B

Disease Control, – $ 2.184B

Family Health Care Services – $ 1.314b

Regional and Clinical services – $ 16.255B

Health Sciences Education – $ 661M

Standards and Technical services – $853M

Disability and Rehabilitation services – $ 399M

By: Delicia Haynes

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