Medical Stores seeks N$25 million to address medicine shortages

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

The Central Medical Store under the Ministry of Health and Social Services has appealed for an increased budget of N$25 million for pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in a bid to address crucial medication shortages and enhance service delivery.

This request comes after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs visited the facility to assess the situation.

During the visit, officials highlighted a pressing issue affecting the availability of essential medications, particularly hypertensives, and diabetes drugs.

The Medical Store representative emphasised the urgency of the situation, saying, “We are missing about ten crucial medications, and these are the ones people are crying out for. We recently received some stock for epilepsy medication, but it is insufficient.

During the visit, the Committee comprising its Chairperson Gotthard Kasuto and other members such as Johana Kandjimi, Herlinde Tjiveze, and Ephraim Nekongo was given a tour of the medical store warehouse, which hosts a vast range of medical supplies and medications.

The officials at the store revealed that the Central Procurement Board of Namibia’s lengthy procurement process for pharmaceuticals and clinical supplies has been hindering service delivery.

Apart from the budget increase, store officials also expressed concerns regarding the limited storage space for goods and have demanded the provision of trade instruments to address the issues.

Last week, the Ministry of Health faced allegations of a medical supply crisis and concerns about transparency in procurement processes.

The allegations were brought forward by an anonymous source within the Ministry, who claimed that essential medical supplies were deliberately allowed to run out, leading to emergency procurement and possible circumvention of the public tender process.

The source also alleged that the Ministry was procuring supplies from “friend’s companies.”

While responding to the allegations, Ministry spokesperson Walters Kamaya, acknowledged that a surge in demand for non-sterile examination gloves had necessitated emergency procurement to replenish depleted stock levels.

He stated that all procurement processes were conducted in adherence to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act.

“All the procurement processes at Central Procurement Board Namibia have faced numerous challenges, such as cancellations, court interdicts and review panel applications. These challenges have significantly impacted the availability of the mentioned commodities. To ensure the ministry can provide the much-needed services, emergency procurement is often triggered while the Central Procurement Board finalises long-term contracts,” Kamaya explained.

He further clarified that the ministry adheres to the provisions of the Public Procurement Act and that tenders for Pharmaceutical Supplies, Clinical Supplies and ARVs were publicly advertised, awaiting finalisation by the CPBN.

He stressed that the Ministry does not bypass the Procurement Act process for awarding public tenders.

Regarding concerns about glove shortages at Katutura Hospital, Kamaya assured the public that sterile surgical gloves are currently in stock and encouraged hospitals to place orders with Central Medical Stores.

He also said that an additional stock of examination gloves would be made available within the next two weeks.

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