Dept continues to procure lifesaving medicines: Minister

Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS, Elias Kapavore, says the National Department of Health is continuing to procure and monitor lifesaving medicines required by public health facilities.

This is to ensure that medicines are in stock at the five Area Medical Stores and 15 Provincial Transit Medical Stores throughout the country.

The National Executive Council recently approved two contracts for the supply of health centre and aid post kits and also for the supply of antibiotic drugs.

Medical kits for health centres and aid posts are being packed in Port Moresby and will be transported to seven ports in PNG before the end of August 2019.

“For the antibiotics it will be months before they are in the country. In the meantime, the department will procure emergency orders while awaiting the big orders to arrive. Because of the delays in tender and all other processes outside the Health Department control, we will experience some shortages from time to time. But we will manage.

“Currently, across all five Area Medical Stores, there is 70 percent availability of the commonly used medicines. This information is based on the recently established mSupply system reports, which tracks all our stocks level and which medicines are on order at any one time. This figure means that there are some gaps in the medicines, which orders have been placed and are yet to come into the country.

“There are many reasons why medicines might not be available in health facilities.

“My general encouragement to all health facilities is to manage their stock level efficiently and to place medicines’ orders on time to respective Area Medical Stores to access these medicines. Placing orders on time is important because there are times when the Area Medical Stores do not have some medicines due to procurement delays; and it also takes time for the medicines to be imported into the country.

“Reports of stealing of medicines around the country are also experienced. I have instructed health managers to manage stealing of medicines and any leakages. People found stealing medicines must be terminated on the spot. The Health Department has installed CCTV in all five Area Medical Stores and officers caught stealing have been terminated.

“I am informing the public and our health workers that the Department of Health is working hard to ensure that ‘stockout’ of basic and lifesaving medicines are minimised by closely monitoring stock levels. By placing orders efficiently and following up with suppliers for timely delivery. The department is aggressively following up with suppliers to supply medicines orders on time.

“In order for stocks to be continuously delivered to our country and health facilities, the suppliers must be paid and paid on time. When the suppliers do not get paid on time, medicines are delayed. The Health Department is persistently following up with Finance Department to ensure timely releases of funds so bills are paid to allow medicines to flow through.

“There are many positive actions already undertaken by the Health Department to improve current medicines shortages. Some of these are short term while others are long term.”

Press release