Shape up or ship out
GEORGETOWN- MOPH– “Shape up or ship out” was Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence’s message to sector workers Monday during the feature address of the one-day Logistic Management Information System workshop at the Pegasus Hotel in the capital.
The workshop eyed ‘Improving Access and Availability of Medicines and Medical Supplies in Guyana through Strengthening of the Public Health Logistics Management Information System’ a document circulated at the event indicated.
Lawrence is demanding that the public health sector be more sensitive and responsive to patients’ medical needs and to eradicate sloth.
“The Ministry is therefore happy that one of the proposed outcomes, prioritised on the agenda of this conference, speaks to the strengthening of this Logistics Management Information System. Failure to have an effective data system with regard to supply and distribution of drugs can place excessive burdens on other sectors of our Health Delivery, so it is paramount that immediate steps are taken to understand and strengthen our data input and management system,” she told participants.
The Minister reminded sector officials that “The Ministry of Public Health has a mandate to fulfill which necessitates the effective distribution of medicines and medical supplies in order to improve the overall delivery of primary health care and advance the well-being of all citizens.”
Monday’s programme was a collaboration among the Public Health Ministry, the United States Agency for International Development Global Health Supply Chain Program- Procurement and Supply Management (USAID GHSC-PSM) , the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) and PEPFAR.
It was aimed at improving access and availability of medicines and medical supplies in Guyana through strengthening of the Public Health Logistics Management Information System (LMIS). This is part of the Ministry’s effort to address the drug shortage crisis in each of the country’s 10 Administrative Regions and attracted participants from among the senior staff of the Material Management Unit (MMU) Supply Chain Management System, Directors of the Public Health Ministry, Regional Health Officers (RHOs) and stakeholder organisations involved in procurement of drugs and medical
When she spoke, Country Director of the USAID-GHSC-PSM Ms. Caroline Healey said that her organization and its predecessor have been
working to support the sustainable supply of critical sector commodities since 2006.
Guyana, she noted, has been a pioneer within and outside the Caribbean as the first to procure HIV/AIDS commodities; the first to establish an accurate supply planning system; and also the first to establish and operate a modern warehouse.
Even though there is much to be proud of “there is still more to be done”, Healey said reminding that the initiative is about helping to create the legacy and ensuring that the sustainable supply chain system is fully managed by the Public Health Ministry and its partners.
Guyana can expect continued USAID GHSC-PSM’s backing through technical support to the ministry to strengthen LMIS functions to help guarantee accuracy and accountability at both the national and regional levels and in exploring alternative options of cost reduction, transportation and distribution in all regions.
PAHO/WHO Representative Dr. William Adu-Krow had a blunt assessment of the LMIS in the health sector.
“Either the system is not working, maybe we don’t have the right people or maybe the environment is not conducive”, Dr. Adu-Krow said He urged stakeholders to view themselves as managers and assist more in supervising the procurement and consumption of drugs and medical supplies.
Minister within the Public Health Ministry Dr. Karen Cummings said it is currently working at transforming its supply chain management functions to root out deficiencies.
“For far too long the Public Health Sector has suffered from the untimely delivery of medicines and medical supplies to its facilities, hence steps are being taken with the SCMS to have such resolved, Cummings said.
Expanding on this theme, Minister Lawrence noted that “the LMIS is the hub which must
function smoothly and efficiently to support timely, accurate and regular quantification and supply planning, it is the support mechanism through which the inventory management system must be harmonised throughout the public health supply chain , it must support effective generation and reporting of accurate inventory data for decision-making at the level of the MMU, in essence, the LMIS is the enabling platform that captures, communicates and analyses consumption, morbidity and programme data to improve health-care decision-making at all levels”.
Lawrence who is relatively new as Public Health Minister is nevertheless distressed by the “negative reports that were being aired regard to access and availability of medicines and medical supplies and the need for us to upgrade our Logistics System,” she told the workshop.
The LMIS which is targeted for computerisation shortly has to ‘shape up’ because it is the key to “good decisions…to ensure product availability and reliable customer service,” Lawrence said.