Health and Wellness Minister Addresses Medication Concerns

Health and Wellness Minister Addresses Medication Concerns

Minister of Health and Wellness Kevin Bernard, says that his ministry has been working on ensuring the availability of necessary medications in hospitals countrywide. After nurses raised major concerns about hospitals not having essential pain medications such as Tylenol, Bernard said that the ministry has been working on the problem. He also contends that some reports about the unavailability of medications were unwarranted, given the time of day the patient sought the medicine.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “Many a times people go on the media, they do not see at what time they visited the hospital. Now the pharmacies are not open 24-7. They’re closed at a certain time. So if a doctor prescribes you a medication, for the most part, and I know this for a fact, the doctor will say you can come in the morning and pick up your medication. They will treat you for that time period. Most of the time, as usual, we want to get our medication quick, so we decide to go and buy it, as opposed to returning in the morning to the hospital and getting your prescription filled. So there have been instances where in that scenario, that was the case in KHMH and at Northern Region, where one of the persons went on the media and said they never had this medication and all this then the medications are right there. The problem was that the timing of the patient’s visit to the hospital there is no pharmacy open at the hour and so the patient should have returned in the morning. And that’s one of the reasons why the doctor would prescribe whatever medication but they would have already given you an IV or some medication to hold you over until you can return in the morning. So those are – when we did have some shortages, and I will admit that there was in the earlier part we had some serious issues with supply and all of it, we have been able to fix this. We have been able to try and adjust that. Another issue that sometimes we would have faced and I don’t know why that would have been happening, a medication would have been prescribed, but because you know – I will use this example, paracetamol, right? But because the doctor said paracetamol the pharmacist does not issue the paracetamol because they don’t have paracetamol they have Tylenol but it’s the same thing. There are always alternative medication within the hospital. So sometimes we have to use our own discretion.”

As a part of the ministry’s solution, Bernard says that making key managerial changes to ensure processes run more efficiently.

Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “We made some changes in terms of the management structure in Orange Walk and other areas to try and strengthen as well the overall administration of our drugs and pharmaceuticals pharmacists in the different areas. Supply chain, we’re trying to strengthen that. So we’re working and looking at a new inventory system. The plan for that of course we want to build our own Central Medical Store proper equipped with a proper inventory system so we could track what just RAWA does similarly but we want to take that another step.”

Back in 2022, nurses at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital staged a protest on the hospital compound, saying that they were paying for certain supplies out of their own pockets because they were unavailable at the hospital. Medications formed a major part of their concerns at that time.

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