Crisis? What crisis?

The health minister says there are enough medical supplies at the ministry's central store, while officials blame a new procurement system for delivery delays.

07 December 2017 | Health

A new central procurement system has been blamed for bogging down the supply of essential medical supplies at the Central Medical Store in Windhoek.

Health minister Bernard Haufiku yesterday assured the public that there is stock at the medical store. This came after doctors recently decried a shortage of medical supplies at several state hospitals.

Officials in the health ministry blame delays and shortages on the introduction of the Procurement Act earlier this year.

Just last week the Central Procurement Board delayed yet another tender for medical supplies. The tender was for a year's supply of antiretroviral medicine. The closing date was originally set for 22 November and was extended to 17 January 2018.

Management at the medical store pointed out that although they could buy short-term supplies, it would cost much more.

Currently there are no long-term contracts in place with suppliers of medical supplies and the expectation is that contracts will only be set up by next year June. Long-term contracts are essential because a supplier can decide to cancel an order should another client place a larger order.

According to the deputy director of pharmaceutical supplies, Lazarus Ndongo, the medical store has never been completely empty.

Ndongo has been working at the ministry for 23 years and according to him the change in the Procurement Act caused huge problems at the Central Medical Store.

The new public procurement system regulates the government's procurement of goods, works and services. This means that procurement from any government entity has to go through a committee where it has to justify its needs so as to curb overspending.

The process has caused delays in the acquisition of medical supplies because the process is not in sync with the needs in hospitals.

Under the new Public Procurement Act, all tenders above N$35 million must be awarded through the Central Procurement Board.

“We are receiving stock as we are speaking and as it comes in it goes out into the Receivable Bay to the warehouses where it is then taken to the hospitals,” said Ndongo.

He explained that there was stock available at the medical store although shortages of some items had been experienced recently.

“If we do not have particular items they have to be ordered, but we can also offer alternatives to hospitals if they choose this.

“There is no crisis. There was no mass shortage of medical supplies. Some items we had and others not. These had to be ordered,” he said.

The procurement pharmacist at the facility, Fabiola Vahakeni, explained that the duration of the availability of stock varies.

According to her there are 1 200 items that are kept at the Central Medical Store. “The essentials are in place.”

According to Ndongo another problem is a staff shortage and because of cost-cutting the ministry could not appoint any new staff. Currently there are 58 employees working at the medical store and there are 12 vacant positions.

He further said that enough supplies had been ordered for the December period.

“Some suppliers are closing during this time so we had to make sure that there is enough stock during this time.”

Meanwhile, another director at the health ministry, Axel Tibinyane, said everything was working the same as before at the medical store.

“The only thing that has changed is the Procurement Act.”

He said the transitioning to the new Act was not managed well.

“The only reason why it is coming out here and not at other ministries is because it is impacting the lives of people. We are now coming to grips.”

Tibinyane said before the new central procurement system was introduced in April this year the health ministry had received exemption to procure certain items without tenders. Under the new law there is no exemption.

He said the new structures that had to be put in place in terms of the new Act, such as the procurement committee, caused a lot of delay.

“It was new people that did not know the Act, new procedures that people did not know, and it caused delays. This transition has caused a lot of disruption. We are getting there, but unfortunately it has impacted the people.

“Now we are making sure whenever there is not stock, we can at least keep the stock at a certain level and we are also trying to get contracts in place working together with the Central Procurement Board so the contracts are there so we do not need to keep asking for quotations, if the contracts are there, you have security of supply in the long term. But we have another bigger project to overhaul the supply chain management, that will take us another year.”

Namibia makes up a very small part of the world pharmaceutical market. South Africa makes up 2% of the pharmaceutical market and Namibia accounts for only 2% of South Africa's market.

Some of the medical supplies take six months to manufacture and therefore must be ordered in advance. Products are ordered internationally from places such as India and then have to be transported via South Africa.

One consultant explained the process by saying people should think of it as a pipeline running from India via South Africa to Namibia with a tap dripping in Namibia. “Then somebody closes that tap in April (when the new law was introduced) and it is suddenly empty.”


Similar News


Muharukua maternity home brings hope

4 days ago - 21 February 2018 | Health

The establishment of a new maternity waiting home at Opuwo will make it possible for women to stay closer to a hospital before and after...

Empower youth on contraceptive use

4 days ago - 21 February 2018 | Health

Young people should be empowered on the use of family planning, health minister Dr Bernhard Haufiku said at the launch of the Integrated Early Childhood...

Qualified dentists sell T-shirts

6 days ago - 19 February 2018 | Health

A group of frustrated dental graduates have asked health minister Bernard Haufiku, permanent secretary Petronella Masabane and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to intervene after they...

Pregnant women queue before dawn

6 days ago - 19 February 2018 | Health

State clinics in Windhoek are refusing to do more than ten first-time antenatal screenings per day.Nurses at the Robert Mugabe Street and Khomasdal clinics told...

Oshakati hospital gets facelift

1 week ago - 12 February 2018 | Health

ILENI NANDJATOThe Oshakati Intermediate Hospital will soon get a new intensive care unit (ICU) and operating theatre.The hospital’s acting medical superintendent, Dr Vizkaya Amutenya, made...

Sites identified for referral hospital

2 weeks ago - 07 February 2018 | Health

The contentious referral hospital that is being planned for the north is back in the spotlight again after seven sites were identified to be considered...

Cholera outbreak in Windhoek

3 weeks ago - 01 February 2018 | Health

A ten-year-old Windhoek boy has been diagnosed with cholera, the health ministry has confirmed.This comes at a time when neighbouring Zambia is struggling to contain...

Millions to fight Hepatitis E outbreak

3 weeks ago - 01 February 2018 | Health

The City of Windhoek will spend N$32 million in an effort to combat the outbreak of Hepatitis E that has affected close to 500 people...

Solar systems for rural clinics

1 month - 18 January 2018 | Health

Solar systems were installed at five rural clinics in Namibia during December to provide constant and cost-effective access to electricity. The United Nations Development Programme...

Hepatitis E cases rise

1 month - 17 January 2018 | Health

The number of hepatitis E cases plaguing several informal settlements of Windhoek continue to rise, with 294 cases presenting with clinical signs at Windhoek health...

Latest News

DebMarine prelims to kick off...

1 day - 24 February 2018 | Sports

The DebMarine Namibia Cup kicks off on 3 March countrywide, with clubs in the first and second divisions battling it out to secure a place...

Outjo donkey abattoir off the...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Agriculture

Plans to build a donkey abattoir in Outjo have folded.Fu-Hai Trading Enterprises, reportedly co-owned by Swakopmund estate agent Shane Quinton Hangula and a Chinese business...

One Africa Television Chief Executive...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Business

Namibia’s first ever free-to-air, independent TV broadcaster in Namibia, One Africa Television was founded in 2003, the brainchild of Namibian photographer and businessman, the late...

3 Key Social Media Trends...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Education

Like it or not, you are recruiting in the world of Google. Just as easily as you can go to the Internet to look things...

Union warns private schools

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES The Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) intends to clamp down on fly-by-night private schools that allegedly exploit...

Mwoombola fights back

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Justice

Former health permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola has launched a two-fold application in the Labour Court, in which he wants to court to either halt his...

Elephants cause havoc

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Environment

Several elephant herds have over the past few weeks caused havoc on farms in the Outjo District, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in...

The Basics of Branding

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Business

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it...

How to Communicate Effectively in...

2 days ago - 23 February 2018 | Education

Communication is essential for the smooth running of a business, whether it is between colleagues, with a client or with customers.With technology creating a multitude...

Load More