8-month drug shortage

The ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital has been without critical drugs since January.

Morobe Provincial Health Authority CEO, Dr Kipas Binga, said the national procurement system hinders the timely delivery of medical drugs and consumables.

Ordinary Papua New Guineans are forced to buy their own medicine when seeking treatment at the ANGAU Memorial Provincial Hospital.

Those suffering from intense pain get a prescription from ANGAU to buy their morphine from pharmacies or other private hospitals; a costly and burdensome exercise for ordinary citizens.

Dr Binga described it as a “country-wide” issue, saying provincial health authorities depend on the National Department of Health.

“The reason why we do that is because of bulk purchase,” explained Dr Binga. “If you do bulk purchase, you get it at a cheaper price than when you go in as an individual province.

“So if it’s not being delivered lo antap, we end up being (affected). And that’s the same for almost all the PHAs across the country. We dig into our operational budgets to try and buy medicines; which we are not supposed to do but we are forced to do so.”

ANGAU takes funding from its trust account to purchase medical drugs. Internal revenue generated from hospital fees goes into that trust account, which has been depleting quickly due to the impact of COVID-19.

Dr Binga further highlighted that the highly-populated province of Morobe has missed out on health function grants for the past two to three years.

He said the National Economic and Fiscal Commission decides which provinces are to receive function grants based on their calculations and so far, Morobe, New Ireland and Western Province have not been included.

Carmella Gware