– Minister Lawrence moves office to drug bond to address issues, paramount being drug shortages
Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence, in an interview with the Press and Publicity Unit of the Ministry of the Presidency, said that since she has assumed responsibility at the Ministry for just under a month, several systemic errors have been identified and it is her intention to have these addressed.
The Minister noted that based on a tour on Thursday at the Ministry of Public Health’s Drug Bond located at Diamond, it was found that there were gaps and loopholes, which needed to be addressed. Among the gaps identified was the shortage of some drugs at the bond.
Given her observations, the Minister said she immediately convened a meeting with her Directors, Permanent Secretary and other officers from the Ministry and has moved her office to the Bond, “where she had begun making short and long term plans to arrest the issue before it escalates further.”
“I have been speaking to staff members at all levels. I have been speaking to our partners to ascertain where we are and why we are not where we ought to be and what are some of the things that are stumbling blocks in terms of us being able to achieve a health system that has minimal hiccups within it… I can assure the Guyanese people that I am using all of my experience, financial and otherwise to ensure that we can identify the gaps along with the staff of the Ministry,” Minister Lawrence said.
Lawrence, who took over the Health portfolio from her APNU colleague Dr George Norton, said that she mandated her Director of Regional Health Services to make contact with all of the regions across the country to ensure that they were not affected and to determine their primary drug needs.
Lawrence noted that a list was complied with the drug shortages facing the affected Regions and expects by Monday that 50 per cent of the drugs requested by the various facilities throughout the Region would be delivered.
“Apart from that, we are also talking to the suppliers and we are aware at this time that there are some drugs that arrived in the country this morning and so we have been speaking to the people at the Wharf so that they can expedite the release of that container of drugs,” the Public Health Minister said.
The Minister noted that she has also been examining the systems, which are currently in place with the hope of identifying the challenges with the suppliers, the drugs which are being supplied, the location of the orders and the approximate arrival time in the country, in an effort to determine whether other mechanisms should be put in place.
“Many of the issues are systemic issues and they can be resolved easily. We will have to work with other government agencies to partner to solve some of the issues,” she said.
Recognising that there are gaps, which must be bridged, the Minister says she has been embarking on meetings and talks with the regional health authorities of the 10 administrative regions, with the aim of hearing first hand, what are some of the measures and mechanisms that can be put in place to facilitate the smooth and efficient delivery of health services.
With the Minister setting up her office at the Government Drug Bond located at Diamond to ensure the efficient delivery of drugs for all 10 Regions, observers are questioning the need for the Sussex Street bottom house that Government is still continuing to rent for $14M a month to a party supporter for the purported storage of drugs.
With Norton taking the fall for the drug bond scandal and mismanagement of the health sector, the Opposition was of the view that with the changes being made to rectify the apparent corruption, the Sussex Street deal would be scrapped.