NRH without vital testing machines

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Natinal Referral Hospital
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Ministry seeks approval of $1.3M for the replacement of 3 broken down blood analyser machines

By Gary Hatigeva

THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has projected for the approval of $1,308,800, under the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2018 (2), to purchase three (3) Blood Analyser Machines for the National Referral Hospital (NRH).

This was revealed during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing yesterday.

Director of Medical Laboratory, Alfred Dofai who appeared alongside other top ministry officials, explained that the total estimate is what will cost the ministry to purchase the machines.

However, Mr Dofai told PAC that the machines will be sourced from New Zealand and due to its genuine status, the cost was revealed to be high, and the option of source had actually faced a few opposition and questions, but the emphasis remained on durability and credibility of the manufacturing source.

The Machines include a biochemistry machine, and this is one of the main machines of NRH, specifically to do tests for the chemistries of the body, like sugar, liver, kidney and heart.

“It has broken down and virtually, NRH only has one small back up machine that has been holding us right through to now, and we fear it might also break down, because its capacity is small to take up a lot of tests,” Director Dofai revealed.

The other purchase includes a haematology machine, which measures the level of blood in the body, “and this is why you’d see the cost hitting a total estimate of up to $1.3million”.

“The cost in New Zealand dollars is $238,000,” he added.

He further added that with the current situation, because Doctors rely heavily on these machines everyday to do treatments and deal with patients in theatre, and they have also been pressurising the responsible divisions to get it, as they are also under immense pressure to deliver.

“The Machine we previously used was a Chinese made machine, and it broke down within a year, which was purchased just before the course of the 2018 budget, and because it was new, there was no intention for submission on this machine.

“And the other machine is German made, which was the one we have been using for the past couple of years, and because of its massive size, it will be brought in to the country through ship,” Dofai explained when questioned over the quality of machines, and the mode of bringing them in.

The group was also questioned on the placement of machines if they are shipped in, but the Director of Medical Laboratory clarified that they will all be stationed at the NRH, but with their availability, the machines can also be used on cases referred in from the provinces.

It will be a national biochemistry machine and it will also cater for the provinces where they can just fly in their specimen for testing here, including NRH.

He said the Ministry has thrived for the mini hospitals in the provinces to have their own biochemistry machines so they can do their own analysis on any specimen so to avoid time constraints.

The other machine is to test the level of bloods, as it is also important for doctors to be able to administer treatments, but according to the Director, it has already lived its maximum life span, and therefore the ministry felt relevant to include in the total estimate of the ministry.

Meanwhile, speaking on the administrative aspect of the proposal for the Machines, the Ministry’s Under Secretary Corporate Services stressed that when one of our equipment breaks down, there is the urgent need to replace it, and this time round, we submitted a paper to cabinet and the ministry of finance had given us the Contingency Warrant (CW) for that.

He then clarified when questioned, that this item was not made possible in the 2018 Budget because the need came during the cause of the year.

Currently, with the breakdown of the machines, the National Referral Hospital through instructions from the Ministry, has made an arrangement with newly established and privately owned, VanMed Lab, to do the very urgent tests that the hospital will need.

The Health Ministry officials revealed that once the contract on the purchase is signed, the Machines will certainly be bought and should take around 4 to 8 weeks to get into the country.

Meanwhile, the intentions by the Ministry to take on the costly machines received strong support from PAC and its members who suggested for the ministry to stick to maintaining the emphasis on quality because the Solomon Islands is not a rubbish dump, and that there is need to put emphasis on value for money.

The ministry, through officials, was also urged to not only look at the current machines highlighted, but to also look at other machines and equipments that needs backups and urgent replacements if they needed to.

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