The newly implemented drug procurement system requires successful suppliers to register all drugs with the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD). This is to ensure that quality drugs and medical supplies are acquired through the procurement system.
This was highlighted during a presentation by Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Public Health on the Global Health Supply Chain Management, Cecil Jacks. Jacks was at the time speaking at the recently concluded, Staff training and Capacity Building exercise for Regional Health Officers(RHOs) and Programme Heads of the Ministry of Public Health at the Lake Mainstay Resort.
It has been recognised that suppliers who have won bids for the supply of drugs did not register imported items with the GA-FDD. This has resulted in the inefficiency of prescribed drugs to patients. Jacks pointed out that this problem is simply because the evaluation aspect of the tendering process is not being effectively implemented.
“There is a bad practice in Guyana where when the evaluation committee is nominated and selected by NPTAB (National Procurement and Tender Administration Board) they don’t do their jobs, they depend on the procurement assistants from MMU (Materials Management Unit) to do the evaluation and then just send them the report and they sign off, we learnt that. That is a lesson we learnt, so the new trend now is to get these evaluators lock them in a room for like a week or two, get the evaluation out of the way and let us proceed,” Jacks was quoted as saying in a statement issued by government’s Department of Public Information (DPI).
He also said that the Ministry of Public Health did not have a proficient procurement unit. This affected the way regional procurement was handled through the ministry. “For the very first time in its history we have recruited an entire procurement unit so we have literally built a procurement unit from scratch.”
The staff which had been recruited is currently being trained to understand the procurement system. Programme heads within the ministry are also being trained to be compliant with various aspects of the procurement exercise and system.
Stressing the need for quality drugs to be streamlined into the health system, Jacks noted that at least one supplier who had previously been awarded a contract to supply drugs did not have at least 75 percent of procured drug registered. This, Jacks added, is more than an oversight by the evaluators. The fact that the quality of the drugs are not assured, it can mean that patients may not be getting adequate treatment for a specific illness.
The Technical Advisor emphasising the need for quality assurance cited an example, “Quality is important. I had an experience in Region Two, where a patient was given the Ministry of Public Health’s Metformin and the numbers (Blood Glucose Reading) remained the same, (but) they switched to a private service branded Metformin and the numbers just kept coming down. So it means that there is a quality issue and that is why registration with the FDD is important.”