Release of drugs from shipping agents and distribution to health facilities ongoing
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) would like to inform that more medical drugs are being released from the containers with shipping agents and distribution to the National Referral Hospital and across the country is ongoing.
This also includes some of the drugs posted on social media as out of stock with the National Referral Hospital (NRH), Emergency Department, such as Adrenaline and antibiotics, like cloxacillin, ceftriaxone, etc. including consumables, which should be collected and distributed by the National Medical Store team Friday this week. Hydrocortisone drugs, a steroid drug also used for asthma patient is yet to arrive and NMS has requested urgent airfreight for the drugs.
Usually, for many of the drugs, should a shortage is experienced, our medical team will prescribe or administer an alternative with similar functions and hence MHMS would like to call on the public to not panic. Those without alternative are ones that MHMS is prioritizing for release and distribution as soon as possible.
The Ministry is fully aware of the need to swiftly get these drugs to our National Referral Hospital and health facilities across the country and again assures that it is working tirelessly and against all payment and financial requirements and procedures to fulfil to get these drugs to the National Medical Store.
The issue we are all faced with have been communicated all along and through various platforms that the delays with drugs making it to our health facilities in a timely manner have been affected, first with delays in international shipment to Solomon Islands due to COVID-19 restrictions and requirements imposed by various countries where we procure our drugs. It must be noted we are still recovering from the impact of COVID-19.
Secondly, the payment processes and systems in place to fulfil and adhere to for release of the drugs consignment with shipping agents, also takes time to complete and is not something that happens overnight.
MHMS have taken steps in consultation with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that these important imported items are not further delayed from release from ports and shipping agents once they arrive.
This includes increasing imprest of National Medical Store (NMS) from 50,000 SBD to 200,000 SBD to enable the NMS to swiftly make payments directly to the shipping agents for immediate release of containers rather than NMS raising payments to MHMS and MHMS to the Ministry of Finance which often contribute to the delays.
MHMS has also reviewed processes with procurement of medical drugs and consumables with supplies overseas and recommendations to ensure drugs are procured in time are being implemented. .
In terms of distribution to health facilities across the country including the National Referral Hospital, MHMS is strengthening reporting and order placement system in place where health facilities normally channel their stock order to provincial pharmacies or 2nd level medical stores and to the NMS in Honiara.
To all our medical workers who come face to face with sick patients, the ministry acknowledges your frustration when confronted with shortage of drugs. Some have demonstrated their concerns for patients’ health by habitually publicising stock outs in the media. The ministry kindly hopes that such genuine concerns are also directed at reporting stock outs to their immediate supervisors and up the chain of command in the first instance. Usually front line care givers are the first to know when supplies are running low thus proactive communication is key to ensuring gaps in the supply chain are identified and urgently addressed.
Sincere apologies to our patients, be rest assured that we are addressing the matter and the relevant drugs for your conditions will be made available as soon as possible.