TechInPacific – The hospitals in PNG are crying for signs of drugs. It has been four months since New Ireland health facilities received their batch of drugs.
The lack of operational funds, along with the zero stock supplies in Kokopo Area Medical Stores (AMS), an internal problem in the New Ireland Health Authority (NIPHA) made the drugs waiting game a long grim queue.
Provincial health authority acting chief executive officer Dr. Joachim Taul said that basic drugs aren’t available, such as pain relief medication, antibiotics, HIV-AIDS, and anti-malarial medicines.
He had a meeting set with all clinical staff yesterday to discuss potential places to get the drugs from.
It’s not certain yet when NIPHA will be able to deliver the needed supplies to health facilities with the recent cyberattack on the government’s finance system.
Once NIPHA receives its cash fund certificate (CFC), it will be able to get supply from the City Pharmacy and distribute it to all health facilities in the province. For now, though, health facilities must race to get supplies by other means.
Dr. Joachim said he is going to send a letter to the Health Department that addresses the dire needs of drugs supply this week
In Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH), a similar problem persists.
The hospital’s chief executive officer Dr. Paki Molumi addresses the immediate need for medical supplies in Badili AMS.
“We have yet to receive February’s request. We are already in short supply of basic fast-running items and nil stock in most items. We have requested suppliers to supply critical life-saving drugs to keep service going,” Molumi said.
“AMS only supplies one-third of cataloged drugs and consumables required by PMGH.”
A more striking fact is how the AMS managed to only complete 13% of January’s request for the hospital.
“Trying to do our jobs as doctors has become more and more challenging nowadays because of shortages of essential medicines, disposables, and equipment,” the hospital’s head of obstetrics and gynecology, Prof Glen Mola said.
“It seems that there are more and more things that are not available daily.”
He revealed that standard IV fluid, sterilizing solution, and laboratory reagents are not available, which deter them from running crucial blood tests. Life-saving drugs are also not a regular thing anymore after the supply crash.
According to the Health Secretary, Dr. Osborne Liko, the Health Department knows what’s going on, but they’re still waiting for accounts to open before being able to supply the medications to the concerning health facilities.
The shadow minister for Health, Elias Kapavore has spoken about the zero and irregular drugs supply matter, saying that it does need to be addressed quickly by setting the priorities straight.
“The procurement of medical supplies, storage, and logistics are routine activities undertaken by the Health Department. There is no need to make changes to the existing systems but to identify areas that needed capacity building and strengthening,” Kapavore said.
“The Government has decided to come up with a new procurement process by no longer considering the companies in the country that have been part of this for some years. Companies engaged in the procurement must meet World Health Organisation standards on procurement, storage, packaging, etc,” he continued.
“At the department, capacity-building is needed at area medical stores, especially with manpower.”