The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has noted concerns and experiences raised and shared via print and social media over shortages of some medical drugs including delays with release of medical containers held with Solomon Ports throughout the week.
MHMS acknowledged these concerns and would like to provide some updates in this regard especially on the national stock levels, combined efforts with other line ministry and partners to speed up replenishments of stocks and distribution across the country.
As of this week, national stock availability level for medical drugs is 78 percent and 94 percent for consumables. While consumables are within sufficient supply range for the next 6 months, 78 percent drug stock level still remains below the recommended threshold of 85 percent. This has been the cause for shortages of some medicines experienced across the country.
Nevertheless, this 78 percent drug stock levels is expected to improve as work on offloading 13 containers at the National Medical Store (NMS) and release of remaining 12 containers at the Solomon ports is progressing, let alone 3 more 40 foot containers scheduled to arrive this month.
With the 13 containers currently being offloaded at NMS, 5 containers contain normal saline, 4 containers of Personal Protective Equipment and 2 containers containing plaster, cotton wool, peanut ruff (Nutritional supplements for kids) and an incinerator for the National Referral Hospital. 5 have been emptied this week and returned to Port.
Remaining12 containers at the Solomon Ports have been cleared and loading to NMS have commenced this week and will continue over the weekend. Of the 12 containers 1 contains gum boots, 1 with Anti-Malaria drugs (coartem), 1 container of antiseptics and disinfectants, 2 containers of sodium lactate compound infusion that is used for rehydration and replacements of minerals in body and 6 more containers of normal saline and 1 container of antibiotics.
These should improve stock levels once loading from ports and offloading to NMS is completed and stock levels updated.
National Medical Store is continuously in touch with Solomon Ports on weekly basis regarding these containers, as opposed to claims that health is not taking any responsibility for the remainder of the containers at the ports.
Moreover, the Ministry of health has been working closely with the Ministry of Finance and partners and at no point in time blamed the Ministry of Finance for the delays with release of the containers from Solomon Ports as reported on the media. Rather, it has requested finance to prioritise release of medical supplies held with Solomon Ports.
Health has been reaching out to partners for support to address outstanding bills with suppliers and remains grateful for the support rendered so far from the Government of Australia in terms of finance and medical supplies and the New Zealand Government that has recently provided 3 million SBD to clear outstanding bills with suppliers, international and domestic shipping agents and operators and port charges.
From the 3 million provided by the Government of New Zealand, imprest threshold held with NMS has been increased from 50,000SBD to 150,000SBD. Maximum amount that can be written on one cheque under this 150,000SBD imprest has also been increased by MoFT from 5000SBD to 20,000SBD meaning any charges between 5,000SBD and 20,000SBD can easily be accommodated in one cheque thus reducing lead time to make payments, clear bills and release the containers from the port. Discussions is continuing with other partners.
The Ministry on this note wish to acknowledge our donor partners for the support rendered and the Ministry of Finance for responding to health requests for prioritization of payment of medical containers and with outstanding bills.
Arrangements for domestic distribution to replenish stocks in the provinces is also underway to swiftly ship the new stocks being offloaded after they are recorded and repackaged for shipment. Other alternative arrangements for local shipment to the provinces are also being discussed and considered, any tangible outcomes from these discussions will be conveyed.
As highlighted in previous statements, multiple factors have caused the delays to replenish stocks and distribute across the country in a timely manner from dispatch from the manufacturer to international shipment, clearance at the ports, offloading from containers to shipment to the provinces. Health is working to address each causes of delays in these supply chain points that is within its control and is optimistic to greatly reduce lead time to replenish the drugs stocks to achieve 85 percent and more of national drugs stock levels, bearing in mind increased consumption rate.
Next update will be provided next week so we are all kept informed of the situation.. END////