Tuberculosis drugs now available for affected patients following shortage – Govt

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Some of the drugs that were previously unavailable have arrived

Tuberculosis (TB) patients are now being asked by the Public Health Ministry to worry no more since drugs used for the treatment of the disease has since been restored.

This is according to the Director of Pharmacy Oneil Atkins who made the announcement on Friday.

Previously, there was a shortage of Ethionamide, part of the cocktail of drugs used to treat those special TB patients.

However earlier this week, emergency supplies of the said drug arrived in Guyana and as such were immediately distributed to patients.

Manager of the National TB Programme, Dr Jeetendra Mohanlall reported that the shortage of the drug which is sourced from South Korea, Japan India and Cyprus, through the Global  Drug Facility (GDF) was as a result of a global delay.

He also reiterated that the medicines will be enough to treat “all drug-resistant TB patients for another year”.

Weighing in on the drug shortages, former Health Minister under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration, Dr Leslie Ramsammy had said that despite the current administration boasting about the largest budget to be ever presented in Guyana, the Public Health Ministry continues to be plagued by the shortage of drugs.

He emphasized that the chronic stock-outs of medicines that have plagued the health sector since 2015 have occurred in spite of increasing budgetary allocations.

Each year, there is another record-breaking allocation for medicines and medical supplies.

According to Ramsammy, “Each year, the Ministers of Finance and Public Health promise that medicine shortages will be part of the past. But so far, we have only experienced a worsening situation.”

Moreover, he explained in a  public statement that “Budget 2019 provides almost $8B for medicines and medical supplies. This should be good news. But 2018 was also a year where more than $7B was expended on medicines and medical supplies, yet there were major shortages of medicines and medical supplies. The latest shortages of MDR-TB and HIV medicines represent just a tip of the iceberg.”

According to the former Health Minister, Guyana has experienced stock-outs too often and these stock-outs are not limited to TB and HIV medicines.

“Since 2015, Guyana has also experienced stock-outs regularly of medicines for malaria, diabetes, blood pressure etc. Guyana has even experienced stock-outs for vaccines. Boasting of large allocations will not solve the problem as long as corrupt, single-sourced procurements continue. Boasting of capital allocations for more warehouse development will not solve the problem” he said.

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