Medication Tendering Process to Undergo Reform to Reduce Shortages

Medication Tendering Process to Undergo Reform to Reduce Shortages

Medical professionals at the KHMH continue to experience a critical shortage of essential medication. According to the hospital’s union, the shortage has affected staff’s ability to provide proper care and supplies, including antibiotics, painkillers, and medications for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Patients who require these types of medication are facing long waiting times, limited availability, and in some cases, being turned away entirely. The Minister of Health and Wellness, Kevin Bernard, says shortages are attributed to a combination of factors, including supply chain disruptions and budget constraints. However, in some cases, it is caused by the workers’ sluggish approach to submitting requests.

Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “The fifth main agenda item was the issue of the shortages that exist or the perceived shortages that exist. It was clear again that there was and has been a communication gap within the supply chain within the KHMH and the wards and the communication between the quality and assurance unit not getting some of the information instead of the information going to the quality and assurance it has been going outside to the media even before it goes through the necessary processes. I’m not rebutting any issue that there may not have existed shortages, there will always be some level of shortages because of the supply chain issue that existed. Now some of these things that they have brought up I would say that many of the comments that they made they’re talking about it has bene happening for thirteen years, it has been happening for more than fifteen years. So we’re saying that that is the reason why we have been working and sitting to fix this problem. Again I reiterated to the union and management that this is one of the reasons why at my ministry we have put in a stricter timeline in terms of how the tendering process will work. This end of month right here 27th/28th is the deadline for tender bids to come in so that by the time those bids come in we go, the committee will review and who by the way we have a member of the coalition who will sit on the committee and I have made it clear again that any committee member and today we’re sending out to every member of that committee whether you’re working within government or outside the government that you must declare yourself that you have no interest, no business interest in any business that procures or supplies to the Government of Belize for the Ministry of Health. Our suppliers have been delivering their items and like I said if there is any case of where they feel that a supply may not be of good quality that’s where the process comes in. The user whether it is the doctor or the nurse must prepare a quality report, send it to the quality and assurance unit they them prepare a report that sends directly to the ministry if it’s supplies bought by the ministry then we then use the tender clause in the contract to the supplier to replace those specific items.”

Reporter: It would not be at an additional expense ? 

Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “No not an additional expense to the ministry or any of such and we have had instances where in fact you recall there was an instance where the supplier had brought in some item and immediately that was replaced at the cost of the supplier because that’s what the contract clause states.”

Minister Bernard says that due to these reoccurring issues, his ministry to undergo a reform of the tendering process.

Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health and Wellness: “Again I point out to the fact that it’s not necessarily that there is no medication we constantly are supplying and the CEO is right there and she clarified those points. We may have had issue with medication supplies in the latter part of September going into October but we had started to get all our supplies and consistently getting our supplies and again I said it then and I will say it again that the process of the tender cycle which we saw had caused delays before will be fixed and that’s why we have now the new process and while we’re getting items coming in a new cycle will kick in and so by the time we’re starting award contract – we want to award contract by the end of March so that the new fiscal year we have that process running. So while we’re getting on the old tender we’ll be receiving stock on the new tender so there’s continuous supply. And then in June of next year we put out again for forecasts so that we know exactly by midyear this is where we are so by the time we have the process ending December we are able to then again fast track that process and that’s one of the reasons why I said the Belizean people we are working on ways to improve the supply management and at the same time this ministry is also preparing to ensure that we have a real centralized medical store that we have everything in there, the proper inventory system and that we house all the medications.”

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