Government decisive steps on drug crisis

“Charter of an aircraft to bring drugs over, need be”

By Alfred Sasako

THE Government has taken a number of decisive steps to address the on-going acute shortage of drugs, which has plunged the National Referral Hospital into a national crisis.

These measures include a Cabinet decision in the past week to put an end to Australia’s funding for drugs in support of our healthcare system. The decision takes effect immediately, insiders told Island Sun.

The Government has taken this decision because Australia, they say, contributed substantially to the drugs crisis through insistence by Canberra that the Ministry of Health and Medical Services adhere to Australia’s own standard of procurement procedures and protocol to secure Australia’s funding.

The Australian Government however said it is committed to supporting the Health Sector Support Program, now in its third phase. Under the five-year program (2016-2020)”the Australian Government has committed to provide up to AUD47.8 million (about SBD321 million) as direct budget support to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) for the delivery of health services, including the purchase of drugs and medical supplies.”

However, officials pointed out that Australia’s demand to follow its procurement arrangement has impacted rather negatively on drugs purchases and supplies to our National Referral Hospital because health officials have to redo everything. That takes time,” insiders told Island Sun on Wednesday.

“As a result, the Government has now decided it would take on the full cost of drugs purchases and supplies immediately. We know it is risky but we cannot play around with people’s lives,” senior officials said.

“The Cabinet decision also meant organising supplies immediately from Brisbane as the point of departure. Solomon Airlines has been requested to consider airfreighting medicines and supplies as the top priority.

“If we have to, we will charter an aircraft to bring the drugs over,” senior officials said.

As the rush to replenish drugs supplies at the National Referral Hospital continues, the National Medical Store (NMS) yesterday cleared IV fluids and hand cloves from Point Cruz, Permanent Secretary Dalipada told Island Sun.

“(Today) we hope another load of medicine (mostly IV medications) would be airlifted in from Brisbane,” he said.

There were indications last night the new MP for Gizo-Kolombangara, Hon Lanelle Orlandrea Tanangada could replace the Minister for Health and Medical Services as direct fallout from the drugs crisis at the National Referral Hospital.

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