The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) is addressing shortages of some food items and oxygen bottles at the National Referral Hospital as reported by the media early this week.
The shortage is due to outstanding payments, yet to be settled with the suppliers of both food and oxygen bottles, for some parts of 2019, early 2020 and December 2021. Payments for the rest of those year’s bills have already been paid. The Ministry of Health together with Finance and Treasury are working to expedite payments for these outstanding payments.
Currently 23 oxygen bottles are with NRH and are now being reserved only for emergency theatre operations. All clinicians in the wards have been advised to use oxygen concentrators for now for admitted patients.
With food shortages, all fresh vegetables, fruits, root crops, fish, poultry and meat products are still available in adequate supply for current demand. It is the dry goods, and condiments that are either out of stock or in shortage. These also includes rice, tuna, flavours, sources, milk, sugar, milo and tea bags.
While multiple factors both internal and external to the Ministry have caused the delay in addressing these payments, health would like to assure that it is working together with Ministry of Finance to expedite the outstanding payments and restore the supplies of these needed goods at the earliest.
For food supplies, payment instructions have been raised to the Ministry of Finance and Health will be following up on it. Health has also reached out to the food supplier yesterday, discussing the matter with assurances that payments will be made. Both parties have come to a common understanding on better ways forward on the issue of payments. Supplier will resume delivery of food items this week.
Likewise, for oxygen bottles, the Ministry of Finance through its Central Tender Board is assisting and supporting the Ministry of Health in expediting outstanding payments. Health will reach out to the supplier to provide update and assurance of payment with the hope that the usual twice a week supplies of oxygen bottle can be restored immediately.
Additionally, the current mechanism in place for oxygen bottle payments is being assessed by the Ministry to explore means through which it could be done better.
The Ministry of Health would like to sincerely apologize to its patients affected by shortage of these items and assure that it is doing its best to resolve the matter as soon as possible.