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Sir Mekere to procure practices of Health Department

The cost of drugs being bought by the government and the costly and inefficient distribution of drugs and medical supplies are causing the current crisis in drug supply, says former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta.

“No wonder Health Department has no money and Treasury is scratching for money every fortnight,” Sir Mekere, who is contesting the Moresby Northwest seat, said. “I have been told by honest and concerned public servants that the prices of drugs being bought by the O’Neill government are far higher than international prices, after allowing for freight. The government is choosing to be ripped off.

“Nearly all drugs being supplied by the contractor are at least double what the Government would pay if the contract had been awarded properly, and some even far more. Morphine, for example, regularly costs the government, the taxpayers , three times the international price; adrenaline can be four times more costly. Insulin, the drug essential for people suffering from diabetes, is up to 25 times the price charged by a reputable international supplier. “This is outrageous. It is clear that Borneo Pacific has been profiting to the tune of tens of millions of kina during the past four years, while people are dying from lack of medicine and medical care.”

Sir Mekere challenged Minister for Health, Michael Malabag to tell the public what is happening with the recent tender for the supply of drugs for medical centre kits.

The contract with Borneo Pacific expired last year. Mr Malabag and his department forgot to put out a new tender, and requested an extension of the contract for Borneo Pacific. But, as reported by the media, the Central Supply and Tenders Board knocked back this request, and told the department it must put out a tender. Sir Mekere said he was concerned about the secrecy surrounding the tender, its terms, length of contract, the information provided to potential bidders, the time given to the tenders board for evaluation and what NEC decision is, if any, had been made.

“It is clear that Papua New Guinea is not getting value for it’s money through the current arrangements for drug and medical supply procurement. The Ombudsman Commission and Auditor General should urgently step in to investigate the procurement practices of the Health Department, and examine the status and terms of the current tender,” Sir Mekere said.
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