Drug purchases in Region 7 placed under PAC’s microscope

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The Region Seven administration earlier on Monday appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) but could not  provide satisfactory answers pertaining to its drug purchases, even though millions were expended for same.

Representing Region 7 was Regional Executive Officer (REO) Rodrick Edinboro and his Regional Health Officer (RHO) Dr Edward Segala.

They were questioned on several red flags that were raised in the Auditor General’s (AG’s) 2016 report.

According to the AG’s report, “the sum of $64.496M was budgeted for the procurement of Drugs and Medical Supplies under the Health Services Programme for 2016. According to the Appropriation Account the sum of $50M was expended as at 31 December 2016.”

“This amount was transferred by way of an Inter-Departmental Warrant (IDW) 2504/2016 on 25 May 2016, to the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), (to) procure drugs and medical supplies for the Region. According to the financial return sent from the MOPH the sum of $46.899M was expended and unspent balance $3.101M was credited to the Appropriation Account.”

“The report noted that despite drugs and medical supplies being received by the Regional Administration, the cost was not stated on the documentation that accompanied the deliveries. As a result, the Audit Office could not determine whether the full value was received for the sum warranted to the MOPH.”

That was in 2016. When the Regional officials were asked whether they received value for the monies spent on drugs? However, a value still could not be provided.

PAC member Juan Edghill, at this point, upbraided the regional officials for their inability to account for monies spent on these drugs.

It was outlined that there were instances where drugs were procured directly.

On being questioned, the REO noted that drugs were procured on an emergency basis. The Regional health officer explained that there are shortages of emergency drugs.

This prompted Opposition Parliamentarian Nigel Dharamlall to question the shortage of chronic disease medication when billions are spent on drug procurement a year.

Segala explained that because of Region Seven’s geographic location it was difficult to procure the drugs, while highlighting that they also provide services beyond Region Seven.

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