Opposition wants probe into drugs, medical supplies shortage

In light of the recent shortage of drugs and medical supplies within the public health system, the People’s

Opposition parliamentarian, Dr Frank Anthony
Opposition parliamentarian, Dr Frank Anthony

Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will be tabling a motion this Thursday in the National Assembly for an investigation to be launched into the situation.
On that day, the House will be dealing with private members’ business, referred to as Opposition Day, and Opposition parliamentarian, Dr Frank Anthony will be moving the motion titled “The persistent shortage of drugs and medical supplies in the Public Health Care Delivery System”.
According to the Order Paper issued by Parliament on Friday, Dr Anthony wants “… that this National Assembly calls on the Minister of Public Health to launch an immediate investigation into which drugs and medical supplies are not in supply and those that in short supply (name of the items and the quantities by region) in the public health care delivery system.”
Furthermore, the Opposition member is asking that Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton report to the National Assembly within one month on which drugs and medical supplies are in short supply or non-existent and the reasons for the shortages of drugs in the public health care delivery system. He also want the Minister to say what measures which have been, and are being taken to rectify this ongoing crisis; the projected timelines for an improvement in the delivery system across the country; and the budgetary implications of these emergency measures, if any; as well as to report on the measures put in place to prevent such a reoccurrence.
Dr Anthony pointed out, in his grounds for the motion, that his crisis of the drugs and medical supplies shortage is putting the lives of thousands at risk as the Public Health Ministry and the Government continues to drag its feet and take no emergency interventions to correct the situation.
“… at the present time, there appears to have been no response to this growing crisis with no procurement of large quantities of these medicines and medical supplies dating back to latter half of 2015, despite on-going and persistent reports of the shortages of medicines, including basic and essential drugs, reagents and x-rays supplies across the country, and most noticeably at its tertiary care and referral hospital, the Georgetown Public Hospital, where $2.8 billion of its $7.2 billion budgetary allocation is for the procurement of medicines and medical supplies,” the Opposition MP outlined in the motion.
He went on to point out that this countrywide shortage of basic and essential drugs medical supplies were raised in the House, with calls for urgent action to be taken by several Opposition Members of Parliament during the Examination of the Estimates of the 2016 Budget on the allocations for the health sector.
The medical doctor further underscored that it is the fundamental right of every citizen to have free medical attention and for the Public Health Ministry to ensure that citizens have access to medicines and medical supplies in sufficient quality and quantity on a timely manner. He noted access to health care is a right and not a privilege granted by Government.
Moreover, the Member of Parliament pointed out that $5.19 billion was appropriated in the 2015 Budget and this was tripled this year with $19 billion being budgeted, of which some $5 billion has been allocated for the procurement and distribution of medicines and medical supplies to all hospitals, health centres and health posts throughout the country. He further added that last year over $600 million of the allocated monies for the procurement of medicines and medical supplies were not utilised.
Over the past few months, patients across Guyana continue to face stumbling blocks as access to some basic forms of medical care remains limited, especially at publicly-run health institutions. Some of the most hard hit areas includes Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). However, the Government through the Public Health Ministry has been denying that there is any such shortages in the country.