GIS - 15 June, 2020: From 11 March 2020 till date, some Rs 93 million have been spent for the purchase of pharmaceutical products by way of emergency procurement. The payments are being processed and will be completed by end of the financial year, indicated, today, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Jagutpal, in the National Assembly, in reply to a Private Notice Question pertaining to the purchase of pharmaceutical drugs.
The Health Minister indicated that in the wake of Covid-19, the Ministry of Health and Wellness had to ensure that the health services were adequately prepared to respond to any emergencies in all aspects including medical and paramedical staff, infrastructure equipment, protective material, drugs, and pharmaceutical products.
He pointed out that the Ministry holds a stock of 766 drugs used in the treatment and care of patients with different pathologies which are based on the World Health Organisation’s essential list of medicines for the treatment and management of various categories of diseases. Most of these drugs, he stated, are procured through annual tenders from local and foreign suppliers and they are stocked at the Central Supply Division and distributed to health institutions on a planned delivery schedule. He added that other drugs are procured on an as and when required basis.
Speaking about the procedure of procurement, Dr Jagutpal stated that this exercise is well-defined. Each year during the months of February and March, he said, a Committee of Needs comprising of all Consultants in Charge and pharmacists to examine the requirements of previous years, annual trends, new requirements and existing stocks. Based on this exercise, the requirements of the following financial year are worked out by the Committee of Needs and the recommendations are then submitted to the Procurement Section for the preparation of appropriate tender documents, he added.
The Health Minister however underlined that this year, the exercise could not be completed in view of the outbreak of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Consequently, the Ministry of Health and Wellness had to initiate appropriate actions in March 2020 so as to avoid the situation of disruption and supply of pharmaceutical products since most of these products are procured from abroad, he said.
He further indicated that the Ministry of Health and Wellness had contacted suppliers who confirmed that they were not in a position to fulfil their contracts for orders which had already been placed due to lockdown and restrictions on international transportation. The situation persisted, he added, and suppliers are still facing the same problem to deliver the products for which contracts were already awarded to them. He stated that today the situation is still the same and has not improved.
In light of the above, Dr Jagutpal underlined that a Monitoring Committee comprising senior officials has been set up at the level of the Ministry to undertake an in-depth assessment of the procurement of drugs, medical consumables as well as biomedical equipment. The Committee also assessed the exact needs of patients and ensured that vaccines, essential drugs, and routine medications are available in sufficient quantity at all times to cater for all patients.
Dr Jagutpal expressed satisfaction that the proactive actions taken have resulted in the availability of all medications in all health institutions and the private sector adding that there was no shortage of any drugs at any point of time. He recalled that an additional stock of 62 000 vaccines to the tune of Rs 15 million was airlifted and procured through direct procurement so as to meet the requirements of fellow citizens. Furthermore, he stated that the Ministry of Health and Wellness had recourse to emergency procurement procedures to ensure that the stock of drugs is replenished at its earliest.
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