By Staff Reporters
THE shortage of medicines at government hospitals, health centres and clinics nationwide is causing a rise in prices at private pharmacies and making at least one hospital to say it will reduce services if no solution is found soon.
The Goroka General Hospital is considering cutting back on the services as it continues to spend thousands of dollars more to buy medicine from private suppliers.
At Mt Hagen, patient care is also under threat, said a senior official.
In Lae, private pharmacies are charging more as the demand for prescribed drugs increases to levels never seen before.
On Monday, the Government announced it has selected five companies to supply medicine to public hospitals, health centres and clinics, with Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari saying a new system will be used to prevent what is happening now from happening in the future
However, the Government team looking into the issue of the countrywide shortage of medicine did not name the companies selected.
In LAE, some pharmacies have reported a rise in the number of customers – to between 50 and 60 a day – presenting prescriptions from hospitals and clinics in the past two weeks.
“The increase in the number of clients has also seen the increase in the prices and that has caused many who cannot afford to go without medication,” said Morobe Pharmacy nurse Theresa Angkut.
Already 54 health centres, over 200 aid posts and Angau General Hospital have been affected.
Angau Hospital public relations officer Theo Zaningo said they are assisting patients with what they have. The story is the same at other centres in the country.
In GOROKA, the general hospital may be forced to close down some essential services “if the situation does not improve”, says Eastern Highlands provincial health authority chief executive Dr Joseph Apa.
“The hospital spends up to K100,000 a month to procure medicine and other medical supplies from pharmacies to meet the shortage,” Apa said.
“The nationwide shortage affects our operations not only at the provincial hospital but also at the rural health facilities particularly the common prescribed drugs such as antibiotics, analgesics, anaesthetics, bronchodilators, steroids and iron supplements.
“Medical supplies such as cannulas, catheters, gloves, gauzes are not on our shelves, so we have to procure medicine from the limited funds we have.”
In MT HAGEN, general hospital acting chief executive Dr Paulus Ripa said patient care may be greatly affected.
Last year, the official supplier, Area Medical Store, supplied less than half their needs so Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority spent over K800,000 to meet the shortfall.
“This year on a monthly basis we have only been receiving 30 per cent of the items we needed,” Ripa said.
“We have not been receiving all the supplies that we have ordered in the past few months.”
He said the health authority has approved K250,000 from its project account to buy more supplies.
“If supplies are not reinstated in the not too distant future, the hospital may be forced to screen and diagnose patients only and refer them to private pharmacies to purchase their own drugs.
“Our doctors and nurses are finding it difficult to deliver babies without gloves, treat very sick patients without necessary first line drugs and do procedures like putting in chest drains without necessary trocars and catheters to drain urine.”
He has called on people to look after themselves and avoid getting sick or injured.
In EAST NEW BRITAIN, St Mary’s Vunapope Hospital, one of two major hospitals in the province, is buying medicine from local pharmacies.
Hospital administrator Albert Seri said Area Medical Store, in Kokopo, only supplied half of what they ordered.
“We are currently buying our drugs from local pharmacies in Kokopo and making do with that. This arrangement is basically keeping our head above the water. The bottom line is we cannot refuse patients and the hospital has been full daily with people seeking health services,” he said.
Source : thenational.com.pg