Public outcry over lack of basic medication in our Health Facilities.
By Tamsir Manneh
The Nation Assembly Select Committee on Health had on Monday 13th November 2016 met with the National Pharmaceutical Services , laboratory and other health related directorates housed within Central medical stores offices at Kotu. In his introductory remark, Hon. Ousman Sillah, the chairman of the Select Committee on Health reminds the gathering that as National Assembly Members they have multiples statutory roles and oversight responsibilities and auditory functions as well .
"We have an audit role and in exercise of that function that is why we are here today. We started with the policy makers and head of departments within the ministry of Health and Social welfare during which reports and the policy strategic plans of the health sector was presented and that was followed by site visits to health facilities".
During most of the facility visits , the complains from most of the health worker are lack of essential drugs supplies thus the reason to visit locust which is the central stores situated at kotu. Babanding Sabally the director of Pharmaceutical Services buttressed the need for Government to increase its health budget. He denied the common notion that pilfering occurs within the stores. He gave a precise explaination of the supply chain management system installed which is widely regarded as unbreakable. Asked why drugs are not available all the time in the facilities?
" We have a strategy in place where we categorised drugs into classes, taking into consideration of the life saving drugs against not too important medications. I will not put Government money to buy paracetamol or Vitamin B complex when there is need to make available drugs such as oxytocin, Magnesium sulphate and other life saving drugs..These life saving medications are always available as against Paracetamol... this is why we often heard from patients that even paracetamol is not available"
he vehemently lamented. He said 2017 is a difficult period for them due to the migration from single sourcing to international competitive bidding.
"The former regime opted for a single sourcing of most of our supplies while the present Administration has decided on the ICB system which normally take about 6-9 months to receive supplies. The Good news is, we have started receiving supplies and as we speak containers are being off-loaded" .
When asked as to what system he would recommend between Single sourcing and International competitive Bidding?
"As a specialist in supply chain management, I will recommend International competitive bidding simply because it gives you room to bargain thus saving more money for government"
but was quick to add that there should be some flexibility and would need a weaver in some instances. He guided the NAMs on a conducted tour to the stores and it was seen that drugs are being palleted on shelves and inventory being taken thus an indication that there is supply being received.
Meet the stakeholders continues in order to improve a system previously handled by the soldier's regime.