Public medical stores risk shortage of drugs

Due to recent price increases and the declining value of the cedi relative to the dollar, public health facilities’ medical stores face an impending medicine scarcity.

According to the Health Service Supply Chain Practitioners Association of Ghana, a large number of bidders to public health facilities have returned procurement lists asking for increases in the prices of medical supplies that had previously been allotted.

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Stephen Sakyi, the national president, disclosed that some areas of the country are experiencing a shortage of specific medical supplies due to the country’s deteriorating economic circumstances.

“Suppliers that purchased a tender from a facility and pledged to provide some things to the facilities have written to all the facilities stating that there should be an increase in costs or they will not supply. Some people aren’t even responding and aren’t providing anything.

“The system is experiencing several stock outs as a result of this. It has interfered with supply. These vendors primarily import. Therefore, the prices of imported goods are being affected by the cedi’s current depreciation, the speaker stated.

Drug and non-medicine consumable shortages at public pharmacies are possible.
Stakeholders from the Ghana Health Service, the Public Procurement Authority, and the Health Service Supply Chain Practitioners Association are shown in a group portrait (HESSCPAG)
The Association lamented the difficulties facing medicine stores at public health institutions at its 14th annual general meeting in Kumasi.

The majority of public health facilities do not currently have funding set aside for the purchase of consumables other than medicine, such as examination gloves, syringes, cotton wool, mattresses, and others.

Stephen Sakyi is pleading with the government to establish a strategy allocating ongoing funding for such products because they are typically purchased with money from National Health Insurance Scheme service fees.

He is concerned that if the situation is not resolved right away, it can worsen and force patients to make private purchases of such necessities.

The service fee for NHIA has been combined with the funds allotted for these non-medicines. Therefore, a portion of the money that the NHIA reimburses, which is also used for administrative costs, is spent on these non-medicinal items.

However, these amounts are grossly insufficient. We don’t want people to be instructed to carry their own gloves to the hospital in order to receive treatment,” he stated.

He also urged the government to improve working conditions because professionals are now the lowest paid workers in the health industry.

“Health service supply chain professionals like myself receive some of the lowest salaries in the association. If he receives the lowest pay, how can you expect someone who purchases millions of products for a facility to function effectively? The government needs to consider ways to inspire employees to do well at work.

Sustaining Ghana’s Health Supply Chain with Improved Research and Data was the focus of the general meeting.

Director of the Supplies, Stores and Drug Management Division of the Ghana Health Service, Araba Kudiabor, wants the government to immediately resolve the human resource deficit in the supply chain sector. She believes technical support from the supply chain personnel would ensure effective running of the Ghana Electronic Procurement System. “The perennial issue of inadequate supply chain professionals across all levels needs to be addressed as soon as possible to ensure the sustainability of these SC reforms.

I wish the Ministry of Health engages the Ministry of Finance and gets us financial clearance for the recruitment of Supply Chain Professionals.” “The Public Procurement Authority should also lend their voice to this call as the non-availability of this cadre of staff within the health sector is likely to affect the smooth implementation of the Ghana Electronic Procurement System popularly known as GHANEPS,” she said.

Despite these challenges confronting the association, Director of the Procurement Unit of the Ministry of Health, Dr Edward Agyekum, urged the professionals to support the ongoing framework contracting policy for efficient operationalisation in the health sector.

“The supply chain sector’s key initiatives include the framework contracting strategy. The implementation of this project, however, is plagued by a number of difficulties, chief among them the high amount of debt brought on by the National Health Insurance’s delay, which causes suppliers to refuse to provide drugs to beneficiary institutions under the framework.

Dr. Agyekum promised that the ministry will graciously enlist the help of all HESSCPAG members at all levels around the nation to support the framework’s successful implementation.

Participants in the public procurement sector and the health service’s supply chain division met for four days.

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