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|The Ministry of Health procures pharmaceuticals and medical supplies in accordance with the laws|
|Friday, 15 June 2012 20:18|
ONCE again, sometimes in blazing headlines, politicians and the Kaieteur News are on a mission to misrepresent the facts as they relate to the procurement of medicines and medical supplies by the Ministry of Health and the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). We reject these efforts to mislead the people by misrepresenting the facts.
The truth is that the procurement of medicines and medical supplies by the Ministry of Health and the GPHC is strictly in accordance with the laws of Guyana, with recommendations from the Auditor General’s Report and with good supply chain management practices.
The Ministry of Health and the GPHC procure medicines and medical supplies through two mechanisms:
* Medicines and certain medical supplies are procured through a list of pre-qualified suppliers. This list of pre-qualified suppliers has been determined after an open tender process, using public tendering modelled after a World Health Organization (WHO) model.
* Certain specialised medicines, laboratory supplies and medical supplies are procured through regular, open tender as the need arises.
With regard to the first mechanism, the present list of pre-qualified suppliers are PAHO/WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, IDA, New GPC and MedPharm. This list of pre-qualified suppliers was not established at the whims and fancies of the government, as the Kaieteur News has sought to portray, and as some politicians have sought to misrepresent.
The government had for decades procured certain medical supplies from PAHO, UNICEF and UNFPA and IDA, all reputable international organizations which have developed certain programmes to assist developing countries in procuring certain medicines and medical supplies. For example, all vaccines are procured through assistance from PAHO/WHO and UNICEF.
In 2010, adopting the recommendation from the Auditor General, and using a model developed by the World Health Organization, the Government of Guyana initiated a pre-qualification mechanism through an open public tendering process to establish a list of private sector suppliers, local and international.
A pre-qualification tender process (an invitation to be pre-qualified to supply certain medicines and medical supplies) was advertised on October 22nd 2010. This advertisement was placed on the government’s EPROCURE website (www.eprocure.com) and anyone could check that fact.
The pre-qualification process was intended, as clearly stated then, to add pre-qualified local companies to the list of pre-qualified international suppliers for certain medicines and medical supplies.
In response to this invitation, advertised on October 22, 2010, six companies, five from Guyana and one from a CARICOM country, requested pre-qualification tender documents. One of those companies that requested the pre-qualification tender document was IPA. This dismisses the claim by Kaieteur News and the IPA that there was no advertisement. Not only did the IPA know of the advertisement, it was an active participant in the process.
The Kaieteur News also knew that the advertisement for pre-qualification was indeed placed on October 22. Kaieteur News, Stabroek News and others had carried stories in November and December, 2010, relating to the procurement practices of the Ministry of Health as follow-up stories relating to the Ministry of Health’s response to the Auditor General’s recommendation previously that the Ministry of Health should advertise and pre-qualify local suppliers.
During the first week of November, 2010, the MOH invited all companies that requested pre-qualification tender documents to a clarification meeting to answer any query the suppliers might have had relating to the pre-qualification process. The pre-qualification document is a document modelled after the WHO- recommended tender document for pre-qualification. The Ministry of Health went through the pre-qualification document thoroughly and made clear what the requirements were.
At that meeting, several of the companies which were present requested that they be given additional time to submit their technical proposals (bids) for pre-qualification. The Ministry of Health responded by making a recommendation to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board(NPTAB) to extend the deadline, which was November 16, to November 23, 2010.
When the pre-qualification document process was opened on November 23, 2010, five companies submitted bids to be pre-qualified as suppliers to the Ministry of Health. The NPTAB evaluated these submissions based on its well-known process and approved two companies as pre-qualified companies. The IPA was not one of the companies pre-qualified.
The tender had indicated that local manufacturing companies registered with the local FDA and whose manufacturing process is in accordance with Good Manufacturing Procedures (GMP) will automatically qualify for the medicines being manufactured. Under this category, two companies pre-qualified: The New GPC (for almost two dozen medicines and health products) and MedPharm (for two medicines).
For the rest of the list of products from the formulary, there was only one pre-qualified company – the New GPC. There were clear guidelines and only the New GPC met these guidelines.
The NPTAB submitted these recommendations and Cabinet gave its no-objection. This list was recommended to be used for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 years. Thus, the 2012 procurement through pre-qualified suppliers followed this NPTAB recommendation.
The medicines procured must be medicines which are manufactured in accordance with international standards and while we might have access to medicines which are sometimes offered to us at lower prices, we are unable to procure these because the requirements to demonstrate that the medicines were manufactured in accordance with certain certification rules are not met.
It is also noteworthy that certain specialised medicines and laboratory supplies are procured as needed, always via open public tender, outside of the pre-qualified list of suppliers. Hundreds of millions of dollars of medicines have been procured through this open tender and several local companies, including Meditron, New GPC and IPA successfully compete for the right to supply the Ministry of Health and GPHC.
We continue to engage these companies in ensuring a reliable supply of medicines and medical supplies at the best possible prices. There are times we face difficulties and sometimes some of the companies that are awarded contracts have not been able to meet their obligations. We thank the New GPC for their readiness during emergencies as they step in to alleviate the problems we oftentimes encounter.
The Ministry of Health continues to monitor the supply and quality of drugs to ensure that good health care is accessible to all Guyanese. In recent years, the PPP/Civic Administration has spent increasing sums for the procurement of pharmaceutical and medical supplies. This, along with massive investment in new hospitals, medical equipment and training of hundreds of doctors and nurses, has resulted in the turnaround of the health sector; but challenges remain. However, Guyanese enjoy better care today. And significantly, a reliable supply of safe and effective quality medications is available.
The PPP/Civic Administration’s main objectives in the procurement of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies are as follows:
•To secure the most competitive prices.
• To secure the best quality drug efficacy, including maximum shelf life.
• To ensure deliveries are done in a reliable manner and stockouts are minimal.
• To ensure that payment transactions are secure by dealing with reputable companies.
•To ensure that the supplier(s) engaged provide(s) support systems to manage a product recall or respond to emergencies as they arise.
In summary, the MOH strives to ensure that maximum value is received for money invested.
The procurement activities of the ministry are done in a transparent manner and in keeping with the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board rules and regulations. The ministry has been responsive to the recommendations of the Auditor General as adumbrated in his Annual Report. In his last report for the fiscal year ending December 2010, which was dated 30th September 2011, and presented to the then Speaker of the National Assembly, the Honourable Ralph Ramkarran, the AG noted in reference to the 2002 Procurement Act that :
“The Audit Office recommends that the ministry continue to ensure that systems are in place to ensure strict adherence to Sections 26 and 27 of the Procurement Act as it relates to the tendering process.”(Pg. 100).
The ministry has been following this dictate in its procurement activities. A perusal of the sections referred to will be instructive for all interested in this matter.
The Ministry of Health will continue to partner with reliable suppliers to ensure that our gains are preserved while being vigilant against sub-standard/ spurious/ falsely-labelled/ falsified and counterfeit medical products.
|Last Updated on Friday, 15 June 2012 21:56|
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