In response to the Island Sun news article today (Monday 22nd of August), the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) would like to inform that it is still in the process of releasing containers at the Solomon Ports and stocking up medical supplies with health facilities across the country including the National Referral Hospital (NRH).
As explained in previous press statements, these containers are part of the usual annual orders placed with our suppliers overseas for the country for period of one year including buffer supplies for an additional six months in case of any unforeseen events such as outbreaks, emergencies, disasters etc.
Normally these annual supplies arrive in the month of March and April, however due to COVID-19 restrictions and requirements on international shipping, there has been delay with arrival of the 2021 -2022 supplies that only arrived in June and July of this year.
Total of 20 medical containers arrived and as of today 12 have been cleared and stock up of medical drugs and consumables is continuing at the national medical stores. Urgent supplies have been distributed to the provinces immediately after removed from containers while others are kept at the NMS pending requests from health facilities.
Amongst 2 to 3 containers cleared late last week, one contained the medical drug Magnesium Sulphate for severe asthmatic cases and the drugs has since then been moved to NMS and NRH pharmacy with more stocks delivered this morning for distribution across NRH wards including the emergency department.
The stocks of magnesium sulphate including other related drugs have been available at the ED however the flu outbreak had caused their rapid depletion. Alternative drugs are available and sharing of magnesium sulphate by wards to ED due to respond to the influx of asthmatic patients presenting there due to the flu outbreak have enable treatment of patients.
The Ministry of Health is fully aware of the need to move these drugs out to health facilities and it is working tirelessly to ensure this is done as soon possible.
With the remaining 8 containers to be released, distribution will continue for stock up at the national medical store and 2nd level medical stores in the provinces and to health facilities for administration to patients.
As stated in a recent press conference and previous MHMS press statements that the Ministry with the support of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury has increased the standing imprest held with the National Medical Store from 50,000 SBD to 300,000 SBD to ensure that payments to release containers of medical supplies can be made swiftly to avoid such delays in the future.
MHMS has also reviewed and strengthened its procurement processes for drugs and consumables as part of overall efforts to prevent delays with the supply chain of these important medical products to the country.
Need for strengthening of Internal communication among heads of departments within NRH and across health facilities has also been reemphasized to ensure that shortages of drugs at health facility levels reaches the National Medical Store for timely delivery.
It will take time for the benefits of these adjustments in these processes to be felt but be rest assured that it will surely help with consistent availability of drugs and consumables at health facilities here and onwards.
The Management of the National Referral Hospital (NRH) is urging the public to not panic from Island Sun’s front page report of a shortage of drugs for asthmatic patients or those with underlying health conditions presenting at the Emergency Department with flu-like illness, as drugs are available at the NRH pharmacy.