Health Ministry investigating shortage of medicine

22 Aug 2013 09:40
WINDHOEK, 22 AUG (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Health and Social Services has launched an investigation into reports that there is shortage of medicine at its pharmaceutical warehouse at the Central Medical Stores (CMS) in the capital.
The ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Ester Paulus confirmed the investigations into the reports by local media to Nampa on Thursday.
“The ministry is investigating the claims from the media about the medicine shortages at CMS. We will come back as soon as the investigations are completed,” she stated.
Reports carried by local media this week had it that State medical personnel are forced to knock on the doors of private pharmaceutical companies for medicine, while some nurses allegedly also buy formula for premature babies.
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 2013 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. 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 that 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.