Doctor sounds alarm on life-saving medicines having run out; Gov’t says it is a cycle


The national referral hospital (NRH) has reportedly run out of several life-saving drugs – again.

It may not come as a surprise to government, which has described NRH’s continuous chronic medicine and drug shortage as ‘cyclical’, but public are asking why government is seemingly allowing this to continue.

NRH authority is silent on this matter, and the ministry of Health and medical services (MHMS) does not have any answer.

The MHMS, however, refers Island Sun’s enquiries to last week’s press conference in which the prime minister’s secretary Dr Jimmie Rodgers gave a bleak outlook on NRH’s shortage problem.

While the main victims to this negligence by government are the sick patients who come to the hospital to receive treatment, only to be told that there are none – doctors and nurses too are at the receiving end of frustrations expressed by public.

Yesterday a senior doctor at the NRH posted on social media giving awareness on several life-saving drugs that have run out at NRH, pleading for understanding from public, so as not to take out their frustrations on nurses and doctors there.

The senior clinician spelt out few vital drugs that NRH is lacking.

“If you asthmatic and you have an attack and decide to seek health services at the emergency unit at NRH, take note that there is no Salbutamol and Ipratropium Bromide.

“If your children is dehydrated and requires fluid to be given and take note that there is unavailability of burettes. If you are diagnosed with anaphylactic attack, small allergies or severe asthma and in need of quick medicine to relieve your, take note that NRH has no Hydrocortisone IV.

“For those who will be needing Maxalone IV. There is also unavailability of Maxalone IV,” the doctor’s post said.

Secretary to Prime Minister Dr Jimmie Rodgers during a press conference on Tuesday last week, told media that generally the medicine shortage in the country is “cyclical and is dependent on some things”.

“Hence, like at the Ministry of Health and Medical Services they order stocks. Our major order is every two years, so we order for two years stocks and every year we order supplementary too so ensure we beef up the stocks,” Rodgers said.

He said the availability of drugs depends on three things; the first one is supply chain, the second one is the ministry’s ability to pay and the third is the ministry’s capacity to distribute to provinces.

“So our ability to pay is at times not very good for us. We have lost two of our suppliers because we have been able to pay for them,” Rodgers said.

He adds, the two suppliers, one did not pass the ministry’s procurement requirement so they can’t be paid.

“And the one that used to supply some of the drugs is due to late payment, so they cancelled the health ministry’s order.

“Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is managing those.

“Right now the National Medical store has 85 percent of all those drugs that we need in the country and 97 percent of consumables. So we are in resistible stock at the National Medical Store,” Rodgers said.

He further stressed that doesn’t mean that provincial hospital and clinics have the same level of stocks.

“The challenge now is, National Medical Store to ensure all the provinces are supplied up to that level. But right now in the country we have enough stock the challenge is redistribution,” Rodgers said.

He adds there are some initiatives that are being looked at under the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Collin Beck’s leadership “because they are the ones that selling the country overseas”.

“We are hoping that maybe sometimes soon there will be another arrangement of procurement of drugs at a cheaper price.”  

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