Following complaints into the procurement process, the quality of drugs, and allegations of shortage of drugs, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals in the public sector, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has begun a forensic audit into its procurement system.
The audit is being conducted with funding from the Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).
It is being spearheaded by Professor Jaime Espin Balbino of the Andalusian School of Public Health and will target the operations of the MOPH and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). This is according to subject Minister, Volda Lawrence who was speaking during a meeting with officials of those entities today (Tuesday, May 02, 2017).
“I didn’t think it was as bad as I found it (but) this is the beginning of the process” of regularising operations in the wider health sector, Lawrence said.
It is expected that at the end of the investigations, specific changes that will be implemented and the existing “vast deficiencies in knowledge and manpower” will be removed.
According to Lawrence, the audit is not intended to harass those with responsibility in the sector’s procurement process “but to correct the system.”
MOPH Permanent Secretary (PS) Collette Adams has welcomed PAHO/WHO supporting the auditing exercise while Dr Karen Cummings, Minister within the Public Health Ministry, wants the procurement process fast-tracked.
Some of the issues identified by Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, PAHO/WHO’s Health System and Services (HSS) Advisor, Dr. Paul Edwards and professor Balbino are managerial and policy shortcomings and non-implementation of plans of action crafted by the Ministry. They also highlighted a shortage and hoarding of medication.
Dr. Edwards is confident that Balbino is “the right person for the job” having a wide range of experience in the field having done similar work in Europe and Latin America.
Nevertheless, he admitted that Balbino is undertaking a “daunting process” and that several consultancies will be needed to complete what Minister Lawrence wants.