Health buckles under meds shortage

18 March 2019 | Health

A consignment of critically needed antibiotics is on hold at Customs in Walvis Bay after the supplier's import permit expired.

The executive director of the health ministry, Ben Nangombe, said the tender for the medication was awarded to a Namibian company that was supplied by a company in China.

“The supplier had a valid import permit when he ordered medicine from China. But it took too long to produce the drugs and by the time it arrived, the permit had expired,” he explained.

As a result the medicine was confiscated at the port.





According to Nangombe, the ministry is now in consultation with the customs department.

He added that they would consult with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to look into the way medicines can be transported around the world.



Shortage

In the meantime, state patients are suffering in the face of disease outbreaks, health minister Kalumbi Shangula said in the National Assembly last week.

“One of the chronic challenges facing the ministry is the procurement of medicines and other pharmaceutical products to supply the clinics, health centres and hospitals throughout the country.

“Of late, the procurement system has not been responsive enough to our needs to the extent that there have been intermittent stock-outs,” Shangula said.

He added that the ministry was making renewed efforts to address this matter.

Last year, just before he was transferred from the ministry for being too “outspoken”, former health minister Bernard Haufiku said these chronic shortages would be solved once the Central Medical Stores were outsourced.

He said outsourcing would save the government N$100 million per year.

“The Central Medical Stores are still here; sometimes there is medicine, sometimes there is not. Some people go to work only to get their pay cheque,” he said.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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