After heavily criticising its predecessor for sole sourcing practices, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration has backpedalled on its position, single sourcing over $136.5 million in medical supplies.
This was revealed by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman at the post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday last. According to Trotman, Cabinet gave its no-objection through “single sourcing supplies for standard and technical services for the Ministry of Public Health”. The contract was awarded to a West Demerara company – Caribbean Medical Supplies Inc.
Among the items to be procured are: Biohit Pipette Tips and Devices to the tune of $34,400,000; Nova Express Test Strips valued $16,200,000; and Beckman Coulter Reagents valued $23,227,195; another set of Beckman Coulter Reagents at the same cost of $23,227,195, and Becton Dickenson Syringes, needles and tubes valued at $39,532,143.
In addition, a contract to the tune of $40,552,000 was awarded to Eureka Medical Laboratories Inc for the supply of Eagle Reagents.
Defending Government’s decision, Minister Trotman pointed out that single sourcing is done when there is the possibility that tendering for supplies would inevitably cause delays which could be detrimental to patients who are in need of critical drugs to be supplied.
“The process of going out to tender – the time would cause delay in delivery and of course, the downside of that is people’s lives would be affected. So in an effort to avoid any complaint or any loss of life or injury to person as a result to the absence of critical drugs and equipment, we thought it best to approve this particular sourcing,” he stated.
While in Opposition, the APNU/AFC had castigated the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration for pre-qualifying NEW GPC INC for the supply of drugs to the Public Sector. However, only recently the coalition Government went back on its position when Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton said that Government could not eliminate this form of procurement of drugs and medical supplies.
Back in February, the Minister posited that no guarantee could be given that Government would not purchase drugs from one supplier. He was at the time responding to questions posed by Opposition parliamentarian, Dr Frank Anthony during the consideration of the Budget Estimates.
“We cannot give that assurance… There was a case where we did invoice in sole sourcing, but that is a system we want to leave behind and go more towards equal opportunity,” the Health Minister had stated.
Dr Norton had pointed out that the aim was to shift away from the centralised procurement of drugs and supplies towards regional procurement. He noted that a costing exercise for each region has been completed to determine the types and amounts of drugs required based on the disease profiles and essential drug lists for each region.