PRIME Minister Rick Houenipwela has met with the Executive of the Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII) at the Paul Tovua Complex, Parliament, on wednesday.
The meeting was in response to a letter sent by FSII to the Prime Minister last week concerning the medical drug shortage in the country.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister has acknowledged the concerns raised by FSII in the letter, with the Prime Minister agreeing that “the shortage of medicines in the country is an indication of a Ministry performing well below par”.
The Prime Minister informed the FSII Executive that as a result of the seriousness of the issue, he convened an Urgent Meeting of Caucus on Sunday, July 15, to initiate a plan of action that has now seen the stabilisation of the situation.
An ‘action plan’ was put in place to address 5 objectives and that is to:
- Urgently quantify the size of the drug shortage situation;
- Put in place processes to locate, procure, mobilise essential and life-saving drugs into the country with utmost priority, using all avenues available to government;
iii. Stabilise the drug shortage problem;
- Identify the causes of the problem and take appropriate action;
- Ensure this incident never repeats itself
“The drug shortage situation has now stabilised, and the country should be back to full supply by September. This full stock will last us until June / July 2019,” he said.
The Prime Minister assured FSII and the country that the drug shortage situation will not happen again under his watch.
“Our procurement process for 2019 is already well advanced, and our tender will be put out to pre-qualified suppliers by September this year, meaning our full stock will arrive by March / April 2019 – 3 months before our drugs stock are expected to run out,” Prime Minister Hou said.
The Prime Minister also informed the FSII Executive that he has directed an urgent enquiry, by way of a ‘Technical Audit’ on the whole drug procurement system.
“This situation must never happen again and that is why I have directed a technical audit. A Commission of Enquiry is likely to take a much longer process so as a matter of urgency I have directed an urgent ‘Technical Audit’ instead, on the whole drug procurement system with a critical assessment of the various steps in the procurement process for 2018 essential drugs and consumables,” he said.
This audit will assess:
- the whole procurement system and the process followed for this year’s supplies – from beginning to end;
- the people involved in the process within and outside of MMHS – their roles, responsibilities, acts of omissions and commissions;
- other factors that may have contributed to the problem; and
- Make recommendations for appropriate actions and interventions that will need to be taken to hold people responsible accountable, and ensure this event is never repeated in future;
Prime Minister Houenipwela also expressed his gratitude to FSII for raising the issues of national concern with him.
President of FSII, Mr John Kwaita also thanked Prime Minister Houenipwela for the opportunity to meet with them and listen to their concerns.