Ndishishi responds to medicine shortage reports

14 Sep 2013 03:50
WINDHOEK, 14 SEP (NAMPA) - The Ministry of Health and Social Services is implementing measures to curb over-expenditure and has recently changed its procurement system for acquiring ‘buy-out’ medicines through the Central Medical Store (CMS).
MOHSS Permanent Secretary Andrew Ndishishi in a media release issued recently said the CMS computer system measures the difference between the minimum stock it should ideally maintain, and the actual stock level at a particular period.
This comes after local media reported last month that medicine shortages were being experienced at the pharmaceutical warehouse at the CMS. Reports carried by local media had it that State medical personnel were forced to knock on the doors of private pharmaceutical companies for medicine, while some nurses allegedly also bought formula for premature babies.
However, Ndishishi denied the reports last month, saying stock levels stood at 89 per cent.
“The stock level is calculated by the CMS computer system which measures the difference between the minimum stock CMS should ideally always maintain and the actual stock level in CMS at a particular period. This translates to about 11 per cent of items that were out of stock. This could be due to any of the following reasons: suppliers failing to deliver on time; delivery of wrong products that get rejected by CMS; items CMS is finding very difficult to source from suppliers; items discontinued and are still on CMS systems; or items that CMS cannot procure because the hospitals are yet to give a go-ahead to buy,” he stressed.
According to Ndishishi, in the past, hospitals procured their own emergency medicines, a practice that has been terminated by the ministry due to uncontrolled and high expenditures, and double procurement of medicines by hospitals and CMS.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Affairs of the Health Ministry raised the concern in its report handed over to President Hifikepunye Pohamba in April this year that the distribution of medicine and vaccines is generally inadequate at public health facilities.
“Occasional stock-outs at regional levels were reported mainly due to stock-outs at CMS in Windhoek, which is caused by tenderers (external suppliers) breaching tender conditions. The external suppliers either fail to supply, or just delay in supplying,” the report stated.
According to the commission’s report, the process involving buy-out medicines when a lack of stock is experienced at the CMS was reported to be cumbersome and lengthy.
Buy-out medicines do not form part of the essential drugs list.
In the case where medicines have to be sourced through buy-outs from local private pharmacies, or from South Africa, health facilities are expected to complete a form at facility level and send it through the bureaucratic channels to national level in the capital for approval. This means the Therapeutic Committee has to scrutinise and approve the request before an Economising Committee approves the funding, and only then can the procurement be done. It was also noted that according to the Namibian Essential Medicines List (NemList), only certain medications are allowed at clinics, health centres and district hospitals. If medication needed is not on the authorised list for a specific facility at these levels, a separate motivation is submitted to the Therapeutic Committee in Windhoek for evaluation and justification before permission is granted. These processes delay the treatment of patients at that specific health facility.
A health system should ensure equitable access to essential medical products, vaccines and technology of assured quality, safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness and their sound and cost-effective use, the commission indicated.