Health Minister denies drug shortage claims, again

The Minister for Health and HIV and AIDS, Sir Puka Temu, has denied claims on the shortage of Anti-retroviral Therapy, or ART, drugs and other supplies.

The allegations on shortage of medical supplies are being recirculated on mainstream and social media.

The concerns were initially brought to public attention in May this year, where Professor Glen Mola, the head of the discipline of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of PNG, said they heard during a Port Moresby General Hospital staff meeting that the many thousands of HIV positive people on treatment may not have any medicine to take.

Supplies including syphilis test kits, sutures and oxytocin, the drug that prevents women from losing too much blood during labour, were alleged to be in short supply.

In response, Minister Temu said there are sufficient stocks of oxytocin, sutures and syphilis test kits in the Badili warehouse and an immediate delivery can be arranged when orders are placed.

He explained that there is enough supply for ART, which are distributed by the HIV program teams to treatment centres nationwide.

Minister Temu also pointed out that whilst ART stocks are sufficient in the country, the Health Department maintains a close cooperation with donor partners and are able to deliver stocks in less than two months’ notice.

Meanwhile, a number of nurses have voiced concerns that hospitals and patients are suffering at the expense of the APEC preparations.

They said medical consumables, drugs and supplies are limited, with many of them prescribing medicines for patients to buy at private pharmacies.

(Sir Puka Temu filepic)

Carolyn Ure