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Minister of Health plans to deal with drug and medical supplies shortages

Posted: Monday, January 23, 2023. 4:39 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Minister of Health, Kevin Bernard, has guaranteed us that “in this new year, we shouldn’t be talking about shortages” of drugs and medical supplies, due principally to various reforms.

In response to our query as to what the Ministry was doing to address shortages that caused nurses and doctors to publicly complain last year, the Minister reminded us that fighting the COVID-19 pandemic had taken priority, and in the United States and many other countries, production of other drugs was halted or even ended in favour of shifting resources to producing COVID-19 vaccines and other treatments.

There is now a worldwide demand as health services fully reopen. The processes to reform drug procurement started under Michel Chebat and now the final steps are in place to not only provide timely access to medications but to ensure that the Drug Inspectorate inspects and declares safe all drugs being imported for consumption.

The Minister also told us that a new Central Medical Store is being planned to house all pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, and create an internal inventory and delivery system to oversee distribution and management. He explained the current complicated system and how it will be simplified. “Currently what is done, suppliers procure through the tender; some of them have to hold these items in their own warehousing, we request whenever [we need] and we requisition and they send it out to the various regions – we want to change that. We want to ensure that it’s all housed at one location, that is to improve efficiency, there is proper monitoring, there is the accountability of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies we have there. All of this is to improve on what was already there.”

The Minister added that their plans take into account supply chain issues and other circumstances that may impact delivery. Priorities include treatments for cancer, HIV and other non-communicable diseases.

 

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