‘Health Centres should not tell patients they don’t have drugs’ – Lawrence
Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence says health institutions across the country should have no excuse for turning away patients in need for drugs and medical supplies.
In recent times, there have been many instances of drug shortages across the country, especially in far-flung communities.
Just two months ago, doctors at the Skeldon Public Hospital in Berbice refused to work over a drug shortage situation. A few days prior, nurses at the Linden Hospital in Region Ten staged a sit-in over the unavailability of critical drugs and medical supplies there.
But Minister Lawrence said in most cases, the drugs are available but there are just flaws in the procurement system which result in the limited access to medicine.
“No centre should be saying that they don’t have anything. All they have to do is pick up the phone and call the next centre or call the hospital within their district, that is how it works,” Lawrence told reporters during an interview at parliament building Monday morning.
Minister Lawrence said she has been assured that there are enough drugs and medical supplies in the system, but the challenge is ensuring they are readily available to the public.
“I have been assured that the drugs within the system can meet the needs of the people of Guyana…What’s more important to me now is to ensure that those drugs and medical supplies do not sit in the bond and we say ‘oh we have, we have’ … unless it meets the points of distribution … then I can say we are meeting our objective of ensuring that there is access to these medicines and supplies by our people,” the Minister explained.
The Health Minister explained that in many cases, workers at the health institutions are just not doing their job right. As such, she said whenever her Ministry receives a complaint about drug shortage at a particular institution, it is investigated immediately.
“We also investigate internally to see whether the request was made and where is that request or when was the last time they were supplied,” Minister Lawrence said.
In fact, the Minister commenced several impromptu visits at institutions across the country in an effort to observe firsthand the quality of medical care being offered to people.
She indicated that in most of the cases, the staffers are just complacent or laidback.