- Internal challenges affecting availability of medicine
- plans to prescribe alternative medicines
The Ministry of Health and Wellness Permanent Secretary, Dr Shenaaz El Halabi has finally owned up to failing the nation as patients are continuously subjected to lack of services and provision of medicine and basic health commodities.
While they recently tried to downplay these challenges to the media, even refusing to respond to some of this publication’s inquiry into the matter, El-Halabi released a statement on Friday admitting that there is indeed a serious problem within her ministry which has seen hospitals challenged by shortage of some medicines and other medical resources.
“The ministry has experienced a shortage of some medicines and non-drug commodities in its facilities including some specimen bottles. This was due to supply chain management issues, which included late delivery of commodities by suppliers, delivery of incomplete supplies and lack of supplies from manufacturer,” she said.
Dr El-Halabi however noted that this challenge is not only brought on by suppliers as there are other internal challenges affecting the availability of medicines and commodities, such as non-awarding of tenders as a result of suppliers not meeting required specifications.
She said while the ministry is still having challenges with some antibiotics and theatre swabs due to supplier issues, specimen bottles, yellow fever vaccine, cancer drugs and other commodities have since been distributed to facilities. This is after patients repeatedly complained after some surgeries and weekly cancer treatment had to be postponed due to shortage of medication and some medical equipment in health facilities.
“In order to address these challenges, the ministry has embarked on some initiatives including, giving health facilities funds for emergency procurement of unavailable commodities to curb the shortage,” she said adding that they will also prescribe alternative medicines where a specific product is not available.
The Botswana Gazette has been publishing a series of articles exposing bad management practices at the ministry that had led to cancer patients missing their weekly treatments and surgeries being postponed due to lack of medication and resources. A challenge that health experts have in past argued it can only be solved with a more competent and visionary leadership at management level.