In an effort to mitigate the negative impact of delays with payment to suppliers, shortages with supplies of both non-medical and medical supplies, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) this week successfully held a half-day workshop with selected departments involved in the internal procurement audit and compliance spot check.
These departments included the National Medical Store, Central Stores, Laundry, and Kitchen departments at the National Referral Hospital.
The objective of the workshop was to review and analyze internal audit findings and recommendation, develop strategies and make assessments on how best to implement these strategies to ensure that the Ministry remains compliant with the Public Finance Management Act in the way it conducts its procurement, supply chain management and financial management as required by the Solomon Island Government.
Mrs. Pauline McNeil the Health Permanent Secretary in her remarks at the workshop explained that the trigger for the Ministry to undertake these audits and spot checks was because the Ministry had noted several issues related to delays in payments and stock outs of essential supplies in the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
“In the past months when we were in full swing responding to COVID-19 the public the end users of health services have also raised complaints regarding shortages with oxygen at our National Referral Hospital which also included food shortages. In addition to these, there have been substantial increases in pending and outstanding payments at the National Medical Stores NMS over the years, resulting in contracted suppliers demanding upfront payments before delivery,
“As such the Senior Executive Management of the Ministry has opted to carry out its own internal audit and spot check to strengthen the capacity and capabilities of the Ministry in terms of financial, asset and procurement management thereby avoiding delays with payment to suppliers and timely procurement and distribution or availability of medical and non-medical supplies for user convenience and maintenance of health services”, explained Mrs. McNeil.
She added that while government has put in place right systems, it was important that the Ministry was compliant with government laid down systems and procedures in the way it conducts its procurement, supply chain and financial management processes in order to ensure prudence in the use of meagre public resources and optimise its health services delivery objectives, for the benefit of the people of the Solomon Islands.
She thanked the team that carried out the internal audit and spot check for a job well done and urged for cooperation towards implementation of recommendations made in the internal audit report towards having a workplan to implementing the recommendations of the report.
To the public, the Permanent Secretary said that the Ministry is grateful for the continuous reporting of concerns via social media platforms and traditional media. “We are keeping a close eye on concerns raised on our various media platforms regarding health services and from time to time we make efforts to address them behind the scenes. Therefore, you as the users of our services, will always remain a crucial player in shaping of our work and the services we offer, to make it better for us today and for our future generation”.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services will roll out similar internal audit exercises to other high spending Divisions and Departments in the ministry such as the Environmental Health Division, (RWASH), the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) and the, Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Programme (RMNACH) programme.
The Ministry of Health acknowledges the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the partnership and for funding the half day workshop at the Heritage Park Hotel.