Australia steps in with 4-month stock of essential drugs & consumables


Australia has stepped in to aid Solomon Islands with much needed medicines.

This four-month supply of out-of-stock essential drugs and consumables comes amid a drug-shortage crisis hitting the country.

Government, through the ministry of health (MHMS) has acknowledged this critical support saying it will sustain the country until its annual order begins to arrive in May.

The seriousness of the drug shortage had forced MHMS to reach out to Australia for help.

“As part of the overall efforts of the ministry to address the shortages and stock outs, the Ministry of Health has reached out to Australia for support to fill in the gaps,” MHMS Facebook post yesterday said.

“Following subsequent discussions, Australia has agreed to provide [three to four months] supply of out of stock of essential drugs and consumables while the annual order for 2023 – 2024 starts to arrive in May 2023.”

In its social media announcement this week, the Australian High Commission (AHC) reiterates that Australia “does not usually supply medicines, this is a national government responsibility, but when the need is great, as it is here, we will step in when asked to assist our neighbours”.

The supplies were delivered to the MHMS on Tuesday.

Explaining the shortage of medicine in the capital and other parts of the country, MHMS said:

“Stock levels of certain essential drugs and consumables have been low in the past months and despite stock ups, efforts to replenish provincial stock levels including high consumption and rate of usage by end users have depleted stocks at the National Medical Store.

“Timely replenishment of these essential medical drugs and consumables has been hindered due to multiple factors.

“These include slow delivery by suppliers, international shipping delays, and MHMS financial constraints and internal procurement and payment processes to fulfill, debt repayment to vendors and distribution challenges which includes reluctance of domestic ships to load medical supplies for the provinces have all contributed to the delays with replenishments of essential medical drugs and consumables at the NMS and across health facilities.”

The consignments that arrived this week contain 27 types of medicines and five consumables, MHMS said. Adding that more ‘shipments will be delivered as they become available’.

An elated permanent secretary for MHMS Ms Pauline McNeil says, “The replenishment cannot come at a better time and clearly the efforts by the Australian Government demonstrate to the Solomon Island Public that Australia and MHMS is working in partnership to respond to the current situation such as this and will continue to do so.”

Handing over the supplies, AHC Counsellor Human Development Mika Kontiainen said Australia recognises the importance of maintaining adequate stock levels and the challenges faced by the Ministry therefore have agreed to support the provision of these essential medical supplies, MHMS reports.

Media for the last few months had signaled drug shortage in the capital’s national referral hospital (NRH) and clinics in some of the provinces.

This week clinics near Auki were reportedly sending patients home with paracetamol. Others which still had little stock left were able to give adult patients children’s dose of malaria tablet Coartem.

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