After it was forced to dump $10 billion in medicines and medical supplies when it came into office last August, the government is hoping to end shortage of supplies by the middle of this year.
“The present medicine and medical supply shortages is a consequence of a broken supply chain system that the present PPP Government inherited from the previous APNU+AFC Government,” Dr Leslie Ramsammy, advisor at the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
He said that in August 2020, when the PPP assumed office, there was a greater than 80% shortage in the health sector.
In the six months since then, he said this shortage has been considerably lessened and the Irfaan Ali-led PPP Government is hoping to eliminate shortages by June, 2021.
By December 2020, the overall shortages were reduced to less than 55% and presently down to about 30%.
“Because of lengthy tendering and international procurement and the COVID-19-related shipping delays, the stabilization period is more lengthy than we had hoped,” Dr Ramsammy stated.
He said that even though the country expended more money between 2015 and 2020 ($35B) than it did the previous 23 years ($30B), the country suffered from chronic medicine shortages since 2015.
According to Dr Ramsammy, single-sourcing of medicines and medical supplies was rampant and Guyana significantly overpaid for medicines, sometimes as much as 3 to 5 times the international reference price.
In spite of monthly disposal of expired medicines, Dr Ramsammy said the Ministry’s Materials Management Unit (MMU) continued to have mounting expired medicines and medical supplies.
According to Dr Ramsammy, the Ministry of Health completed a total physical audit of the MMU two weeks ago and verified that more than 75% of the physical space within the MMU consisted of expired medicines and medical supplies.
The Ministry of Health is actively disposing of these expired supplies, disposing of more than $1B so far, he stated.
Even for those supplies that are still active, a significant amount are of very short shelf-live. In addition, the modern warehouse management information system (MACS) was never kept up-to-date.
At present, there is an emergency selective tender (10 selected suppliers) that has been evaluated and the Ministry of Health is awaiting an award to begin the procurement of a two-month supply of medicines and supplies. There are also two open tenders – one for a four-month supply and one for a further 10-month supply.
“We are hoping that with the rapid delivery from the two-month supply, we will attain some stability in the supply chain,” Dr Ramsammy stated.
In determining these orders, initially, he said the Ministry of Health had to work blinded because the warehouse management system was corrupted with inaccurate information.
“We were forced to complete a physical count in the MMU at Diamond and in all the warehouses in the ten regions.
“We have finalized this tedious exercise and have now restored the accuracy of the warehouse information system.
“The new tenders will allow the MMU to restore the system whereby all supplies in the regional health sector are provided directly by the MMU,” Dr Ramsammy stated.