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Opposition to scrap multi-million dollar pharmaceutical procurement arrangement

A panoramic view of the APNU-AFC rally held Sunday, April 26, 2015 at the Bartica Community Centre ground.

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Sunday night vowed to withdraw a multi-million contract for the supply of medicines and other pharmaceutical supplies to public health institutions if it is elected to office next month.

Addressing at least 6,000 persons at a rally held at the Bartica Community Centre  ground, Dr. George Norton lamented the shortage of medicines and expired drugs that residents of Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) have to endure.

He did not name the company that has been awarded hefty contracts since 2005 for the supply of pharmaceuticals but promised that that arrangement would be scrapped and the sourcing of such supplies put in the hands of a Public Procurement Commission that is to be established.

“We are saying that as soon as we get into power- and this is no ifs and buts about it- as soon as we get into power, we are going to stop this cabinet order and apply the procurement and tender process s so that we can have a level playing field for all the supply of medications and medical supplies,” said Norton who was APNU’s Shadow Health Minister prior to the dissolution of parliament to make way for general and regional elections.

He also noted that the supplier has been selling government medication exorbitantly compared to prices from other sources.

Norton assailed government for not having well-resourced and functioning operating theatre at the Bartica Hospital, no resident surgeon, pediatrician, obstetrician or gynaecologist. He highlighted that Region 7 was an example of how government has been flouting the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (MTP) by failing to have the requisite personnel to perform safe abortions.

Prominent Bartica businesswoman, Kamal Persaud noted that a 23-year old woman died because of a botched abortion, a 37-year old woman was eventually diagnosed  with cancer after Bartica`               doctors had told her that she was instead suffering from appendicitis and fibroids. Persaud related that a nephew of hers who was involved in a motorcycle accident died because there was no CT Scan machine to determine the extent of his head injuries. She said he did not receive the appropriate treatment during the critical 12 hour period to reduce the swelling of the brain.

She had a clear message for nurses at the Bartica Hospital:  “you are citizens and you have rights but you cannot tell the patients I fed up seeing your face. Next time you deh hay hope I aint deh fo see you.”