Public Health Ministry boasts of 90% stock level of medical drugs

─ owed to revised procurement method, better forecasting, consumption reports

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Following a revision of its process for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies, the Public Health Ministry has reported a commendable 90% stock level. Between the years 2016 to 2019, the ministry was bombarded with countrywide drug shortages which affected the delivery of healthcare.

According to Minister Lawrence, “for the past few months, according to MMU [Material Management Unit], we have had more than 90% of all our essential drugs in stock. You don’t hear about drug shortages anymore because that is no longer an issue.”

Senior officials at the ministry including Permanent Secretary Colette Adams, Deputy Permanent Secretary-Admin Shellon Bess, Director of Regional and Clinical Services Dr. Kay Shako and Procurement Manager, Seewchan led by Public Health Minister, Hon. Volda Lawrence recently conducted visits to several health facilities.

Upon checking, it was found that the pharmacies attached to various hospitals, health centres and health posts are well stocked. This is owed to a revised drug procurement method implemented in 2017 and which took effect in the latter part of 2019. This process allows for the early stages of procurement for the following year’s drugs and medical supplies to commence in the current year.

With earlier procurement, the country will now stock one year’s supply of drugs and medical supplies for distribution throughout the country. This gives the health ministry’s procurement unit enough time to stock health facilities with essential medicines and other items.

It was found that improper forecasting for the procurement of drugs was one of the main reasons for regular shortages

Minister Lawrence said, “in 2017, there were no records for the consumption so you were just buying… so, the ordering was being done on assumption and not based on consumption, and we have tried to remedy that as far as possible.”

Currently, during supervisory visits, if there is a shortage of any amount, this is often as a result of a delay in the delivery of drugs to the health facility. This is where the Regional Democratic Council’s responsibility for health in the regions must be taken seriously. Equally important is the responsibility of the pharmacist and assistants to monitor stock levels and ensure consumption reports are prepared and the doctors and Regional Health Officers are furnished with this information. This will allow the timely ordering of the items which will keep the stock at adequate levels.

Representative of PAHO/WHO, Dr. William Adu-Krow, who accompanied the team on the visit to Region 1, advised that there be a system established to ensure that all stocks must be utilised. In the cases where a facility might have under forecasted, a neighbouring facility which has excess must be able to help out the other to ensure all facilities has adequate supplies.

Dr. Adu-Krow also said to avoid the expiration of drugs, stocks must be issued on a first in first out basis. Also, the storage for essential medicine must be in keeping with PAHO/WHO standards.