Public Health Minister Dr George Norton and his shadow Dr Frank Anthony went head to head on Tuesday’s sitting of the National Assembly over reports of a drug shortage at several medical institutions across Guyana.
While Opposition MP Dr Frank Anthony emphatically argued that there was shortage of some essential medication, Dr Norton defended the government with the same vigour saying this was not the case.
Anthony in his statement to the House pointed out that at several institutions across the country, basic medication such as Panadol and anti-biotics are in scarce and virtually unavailable.
“For those intravenous antibiotics that you have in the system in some of the hospitals you cannot use them and the reason why you cannot use them is because there is a shortage of syringes…This is a basic basic basic requirement ,” Anthony stated.
He pointed out that the situation as the same with medication for Tuberculosis.
“If they can’t get the drugs at the hospital then many of these patients will develop resistance and they will a more second line expensive treatment…While we approved monies to buy these drugs they are still not available at the hospital…Would you imagine that at the Georgetown Hospital we don’t have worm tablets? And that is a very cheap medication so it can’t be finances,” said the Former Government Minister.
He said that something is definitely wrong with what is going on at the public hospital adding “We definitely have a problem…a big problem.”
But, when Norton responded he stated that he visited the Regional Health facilities across the country and none of them reported that there was a shortage in any of the basic medicines.
He then stated that if anything, the allegations of a medication shortage would be one of the most misrepresented issues in Guyana’s media.
“We don’t have 86 drugs on the essential drug list hence the inaccuracy of such a statement but it is there in the newspaper and people are taking it as gospel…I personally visited the region from Whitewater creek in Region 1 to Sand creek in Region 9…none of the officials in those regions said that they were out of essential medication,” the Health Minister declared.
He stated that to date the Government has spent a grand total of over $800M procured in medical supplies by the Ministry of Public Health and the GPHC.
Norton was clear that the pharmaceutical supply chain is constantly being monitored to ensure that there are no shortages at facilities.
“There is no crisis in the health sector so far as it is related to medical supplies…We have had shortages of a few medical supplies but not essential medicine,” he assured.