Ramsammy outlines new system for drugs procurement, distribution
Guyana Chronicle
June 8, 2002

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THE Ministry of Health, in its continuing effort to enhance the quality of service provided in the sector, has embarked on a programme to computerise its procurement and distribution system.

Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy said that will ensure timely delivery and requisition of drugs to the various institutions and, most importantly, accountability.

He told a media conference last week Saturday that the project for creating the network is progressing satisfactorily, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

Ramsammy said the initial step was taken when Director of Procurement and Distribution in the Ministry, Mr Omar Sharief relocated his office to the health supplies bond in Kingston, Georgetown, so that he can directly oversee the process.

The Minister said the initiative is in keeping with a decision, at the Cabinet Retreat earlier this year, to bolster transparency in the sector.

He said criticisms about the unavailability of drugs at public institutions and irregularities in the distribution were made in the past and, as a result, it was decided to reorganise the procedures, starting with the Ministry and Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).

“We are hoping to have the central system totally computerised by the end of this year,” Ramsammy said, disclosing that technicians are already “fine-tuning” the accomplishment at GPHC.

The intention is to include all the public institutions countrywide but first in Regions Two (Pomeroon/Supenaam), Three (West Demerara/Essequibo Islands), Four (Demerara/Mahaica) and Six (East Berbice/Corentyne).

“If we can get the central system reorganised, then distributing to Regions Two, Three, Four and Six, which account for 90 per cent of the procurement and distribution, will be better managed and, hence, the transparency will be evident,” the Minister said.

Ramsammy said the other Administrative Regions will be added later although, while those, especially Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo) require fewer drugs, there are more problems with supplying them, because of their geographical locations.

But he maintained that networking is expected to develop a more effective method of ensuring each Region has sufficient.

Speaking at State House, New Amsterdam, after the Cabinet outreach last weekend, he said the ongoing reform is aimed at supplying all that is need on the list for public health institutions and eliminate the problem of shortages at those places.

He acknowledged that the inadequacy of essential medicines was raised during his visits to various clinics and interactions with other people.

Ramsammy revealed that 300 drugs are required on the national list but said, in the early 1990s, some 250 were not supplied on a regular basis.

Fortunately, though, the situation has improved significantly in recent years, especially in Region Six, where 295 of those listed are being made available.

Ramsammy said the Health Ministry is working assiduously to remove the hindrances to full availability of the frequently used drugs.

“The effort, over the next few months, will be to remove the bottleneck, so that those five and all the other drugs will be provided on a reliable basis,” he assured.

Ramsammy said there is no shortage of the basic pharmaceuticals but, many times, the Regions do not access to them from the (Kingston) bond.

So, when the drug is not available at a hospital, patients assume there is an insufficiency.

The Minister said the reorganisation would also make sure that institutions making requests place their orders in a timely manner and distribution will only be done when the requisitions are supported by a consumption report.

Each institution will have to submit the necessary documentation to its respective Region via the Internet and the Regions, in turn, will forward the documents to the central point at the bond.

The Minister said, unless the relevant personnel can account for the usage at public health facilities, additional supplies will not be given.

“We are going to ensure rigid compliance with the consumption reports. To enforce this, regular audits will be conducted to ensure that drugs are accounted for and utilised on a timely basis,” he stressed.

Ramsammy reported major successes in this area recently, noting that, in the early 1990s, the expiration dates reached were between 30 and 40 per cent of the drugs delivered.

He said the percentage has been significantly reduced to under eight and the Ministry is hopeful of further reduction to less than three per cent, this year.

In addition, the Ministry, through the Regional Administrations, has assigned a pharmacist to each Region to assure transparency and minimise the incidence of irregularities, GINA said.