As our nation’s hospitals continue to struggle with an increasing workload they have been presented with, the country is on the verge of a different medical crisis, as the Regional Health Authorities have not yet received their allocations for the purchase of pharmaceutical drugs. As the supplies at hospital dispensaries across the country are running dangerously low on certain drugs, the Regional Authorities’ inability to replenish the depleted stocks, means that our hospitals can soon run out of critical medication for their patients. While suppliers have been lenient with the state so far, as a result of escalating debt and a lack of guaranteed payment, these companies may soon decide to halt their distribution of drugs until their accounts have been settled.
While the majority of pharmaceutical drugs and supplies are procured by the National Insurance Property Development Company (NIPDEC), who would allocate the supplies to approximately one hundred and ten public healthcare institutions across the nation, they are currently unable to deliver payment to the suppliers, who have responded by delivering goods on an emergency schedule on good-faith, that may soon run out. As such, the burden of purchasing these drugs now fall almost entirely on the Regional Health Authorities, who are now faced with an identical situation as NIPDEC, as they have not yet received their budgetary allocations for the financial year that is necessary to pay for the purchase of the drugs.
Already, there have been many complaints from patients across the nation who are not able to collect their medication for various ailments, and this will only get worse the longer this situation is allowed to continue. The citizens have already witnessed the recent panic that stemmed from the shortage of the H1N1 vaccine, and the resulting opportunities for capitalism by the private sector, and we do not want to see this repeated for more intensive treatments.
Given that the Appropriation Bill for 2016 was passed in Parliament, the allocations for these Regional Health Authorities would have been approved, and therefore I am calling upon the Minister of Health to attend to the situation as a matter of urgency, and inform the public on the reason for the Ministry’s delay in distributing the funds necessary for the purchase of these drugs. Because medical care for a patient does not end at the hospital, and these medications are necessary at times not only for their treatment, but for their recovery and rehabilitation so that they can continue living long and healthy lives.
Member of Parliament for Barataria/San Juan
Dr. the Hon. Fuad Khan