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There is No Drug Shortage, says PNG Health Minister Kapavore

Papua New Guinea Health Minister, Elias Kapavore has given assurance to the general public that the country is not currently facing any medicine shortages.

The National Department of Health is monitoring stock levels of all basic and lifesaving medicines required by public health facilities, to ensure that these medicines are in stock at our 5 Area Medical Stores throughout the country.

Currently, across all 5 Area Medical Stores, there is 75% availability of the commonly used medicines.

He says this information is based on the recently established Supply system, which tracks all stocks level and which medicines are on order at any one time.

“I encourage all Health facilities to manage your stock level efficiently and to place your medicines orders to respective Area Medical Store to access these medicines,” said Kapavore.

There are times when the Area Medical Stores run out of some medicines due to procurement delays and it also takes time for the medicines to be imported in to the country.

There are also reports of stealing of medicines around the country.

I instruct health managers to manage stealing and any leakages. People found stealing medicines must be terminated on the spot.

The health department has installed CCTV in all 5 Area Medical Stores and officers caught stealing have been terminated.

I must inform all that the Department of Health is working hard to ensure that ‘stockout’ of basic and lifesaving medicines are minimized, by closely monitoring stock levels, placing orders efficiently and following up with suppliers for timely delivery.

To assist manage medicines, the Department of Health with support from the University of PNG, School of Pharmacy have established and trained Pharmacy Assistants to manage and place timely orders for medicines.

In addition, where stocks are not available in any parts of the country, we are redistributing stocks of medicines from one Area Medical Store to others that may be facing any shortages. This is to manage stock levels, while awaiting delivery of ordered stocks from suppliers.

The medical supplies procurement and distribution system is currently under review to ensure that the system efficiently delivers good quality medicines and medical supplies to meet the needs of our people.

Port Moresby General Hospital, as the country’s National referral Hospital, has been allocated additional budget of K15 million by the Government for procurement of specialist medicines and reagents. The hospital management has an established process for managing medicine shortages and procuring medical supplies for the specialist services they provide. Through this established process, the hospital has placed orders for medicines for hypertension and other medicines that are currently out of stock at the hospital pharmacy.

The article on the front page of The National Newspaper on Friday 26th July 2019, entitled ‘Medicine Shortage’ presents an incorrect and misleading information to the public. Such articles will only create unnecessary panic amongst the general public and must be corrected to assure our people that the Government, through the National Department of Health, is working hard to ensure that basic and lifesaving medicines are available at all public health facilities at all times.

The National Executive Council recently approved two contracts for the supply of Health Centre and Aid Post Kits and also for the supply of antibiotic drugs. The supply and distribution of medical kits to every health centre and aid post throughout the country, will ensure availability of essential medical supplies at these primary health facilities, which cater for the majority of the population. Medical kits for Health Centres and Aid posts are being packed in Port Moresby and will be transported to 7 ports in PNG in the month of August 2019.

The Marape/Davis Government is committed to improving the delivery of health services to our people and access to good quality medical supplies is a fundamental component of commitment. The reform of the medical supplies procurement and distribution system is therefore a priority of the National Department of Health and as Minister responsible, I am committed to ensuring that an efficient and sustainable system is developed to meet the needs of our people.

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