With $10B in expired drugs dumped, Guyana rushes to meet medicine shortage

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After it was forced to dump over $10 billion in expired medication which was accumulated over the last five years, Guyana is now spending $12 billion on medication and other supplies to recover from a countrywide shortage currently making a dent in the healthcare system.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, on Monday, responded to the growing concerns over shortages of drugs at the regional and national levels, saying that although it exists, it is an improvement from last year as efforts are being made to address the shortfall.

He said of the $12B, approximately $4B was spent on the procurement of essential medication while another $5 billion went towards acquiring personal protective equipment.

The remaining $3 billion was used to purchase reagents so that laboratories can function properly.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony (Photo: Ministry of Health)

During a virtual press briefing on Monday, the Health Minister reminded that when the government changed in August 2020, the Materials Management Unit was filled with mostly 70 per cent expired medication.

Dr. Anthony explained this was the situation at warehouses across all the regions, forcing the government to dump hundreds of truckloads of medication worth over $3 billion in the last six months alone.

According to Dr. Anthony, at the time, the electronic system for tracking and management of medication had failed. Along with a series of audits at the Unit, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), and across all regions, the government has been working since then to get the system up back and running, the Health Minister said.

Already, the situation with medication for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS has improved, Dr. Anthony reported.

“We still can’t fill all of the medication needs at the regional level, we still have shortages but we are sparing no efforts to fix this,” Dr. Anthony said.

Once the audit is complete and a final report is submitted, Dr. Anthony said the government intends to pay attention to those recommendations.

Already, record keeping has been updated and there has been the appointment of a person within each region to be a liaison with the Ministry of Health on pharmaceutical supplies.

In the long term, the ministry intends to work on computerising the system with the aim of providing real-time data to reduce stock-outs and shortages in drugs and medical supplies.

“At this stage, the primary goal is to fix the problem that we have and get medicines in the system so that we can get it out to patients who need the medicine,” he added

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