There is a critical shortage of Medical supplies in public health facilities across the country. Ministry of Health C.E.O Ramon Figueroa confirmed over the phone today that there is a shortage in bandages, gauze and syringes. Figueroa says that the Ministry has been facing problems with receiving supplies because contracted suppliers have been slow in bringing in certain items. He added that the Ministry of Finance has been slow in approving funds to make purchases that will satisfy the shortage temporarily.
Dr. Ramon Figueroa, CEO Ministry of Health: Let me talk because I just saw an article being published about the shortage of supplies. We have some limitations in medical supplies, not pharmaceuticals, because the article was referring to pharmaceuticals and as far as I know, we don’t have one or two things that maybe we are short of, but we have alternatives for it, for medication usage. So we don’t have a problem with medication. I understand that we have some problems with some medical supplies like gauze, bandages, and syringes. The problem with that, from what we have investigated seems to be that the provider that we find the contract with, to provide those items is delayed into bringing them into the country. There are certain things that were alerted to us being short, in for example, gauze. We had sent request for finance for us to purchase the interim so that we can bridge the gap until the supplier brings those things, and we have purchased some items. Now there are other requests that are being held up at finance are waiting approval for us to purchase outside the normal sender process so that we could wait until the supplier delivers what they were supposed to deliver. That’s the situation. As far as I know, that is the situation.
Figueroa was asked how long the shortage is expected to last. In response, he indicated that they are behind the supplier to meet the demands. He added that he made contact with the Ministry of Finance as recent as this morning to ask when funds are expected be approved.
Dr. Ramon Figueroa, CEO Ministry of Health: As you may appreciate, we are behind the provider for them to speed up… There are two things we’re doing. One, we have requested approval from finance for us to purchase outside the normal standard cycle so that we can bridge that gap until the provider brings in. They have told us that some time in August, which would either be this week or next week, they should be delivering some of the items. But in the interim, we had sent some submissions up to finance so they can approve so that we could purchase from other providers that have some stock available for us to purchase and have them distribute it to the hospital so that we can brigade that gap. This morning I was trying to get that approval because it seems to me that it’s somewhere in somebody’s desk, our final approval, so that we can purchase. But in the INTERMIN, we’re still waiting for the supplier to deliver the item.
Yesterday, Figueroa told the Reporter Newspaper that there are Managerial problems at the Central Medical Store. We asked Figueroa about those problems. Here is how he responded
Dr. Ramon Figueroa, CEO Ministry of Health: Sometimes we are alerted to the shortages a little bit too late. Sometimes we are not alerted to the fact that we have certain amount of supplies and the fact that we need to urgently procure. I think sometimes we are alerted a little bit late, that’s all I can think about.
Reporter: So how do you address that?
Dr. Ramon Figueroa, CEO Ministry of Health: I said before that we are looking at trying to establish a proper inventory and distribution system, so that we have an alert system that will tell us ‘listen we only have a three month stock, a two month stock and we have a one month stock’. Those critical inventory type systems, that’s what we are looking to have but it’s not as easy as one would like to think.
Plus News was informed of one case at the Western Regional Hospital where supplies were not available to properly sanitize a mother after she had given birth. We will continue to follow this story as it develops.