Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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The government is still unable to calculate annual medical supply needs accurately as hospitals are not providing a daily record of stock quantities and usage.

Government is still unable to calculate annual medical supply needs accurately as hospitals are not providing a daily record of stock quantities and usage.

Minister of Health Maria do Ceo Sarmento Pina da Costa acknowledged that medication supply was an ongoing issue that the ministry still needed to resolve.

She said health personnel did not record the prescriptions given to patients and therefore it was difficult to calculate medication needs clearly.

“We don’t have data, so it is difficult to calculate clearly. If we over calculate then a lot of medication will be burnt and if we under calculate then medication stock runs out,” she told a public audience with MPs at the National Parliament.

Other problems, she said included the lack of human resources in health facilities, particularly pharmacists, with cleaners regularly helping nurses to distribute medication to patients.

Last year the government was forced to burn four containers with 47 different medical items valued at more than $300,000 because they were past their use by date.

She said this medication was purchased between 2013 and 2014, with some also donated by the Global Agency Fund and UNICEF.

Most of the medication burnt was antibiotics, including ampixilin, which is no longer used for treating patients.

In 2015, the government established an online database system in health centers in Baucau and Dili to control the daily medication supply in the health facilities there, but it is no longer functioning in Baucau due to internet problems.

Meanwhile, President of Commission F (responsible for health, education, culture, veteran affairs and gender equality) MP Virgilio da Costa Hornai said some of the medication purchased and donated by international agencies was not based on health needs in the country.

He said it was important that health personnel register medication use in each health facility to help the government to calculate stocks properly when purchasing supplies.

“We should have a database so we can calculate the drug purchases based on our necessities,” he said.

He called for an in-depth investigation into the burning of the four containers of medication and for the results to be made public. 

He also called on the team from the Autonomous Drug and Medical Equipment Service (SAMES) to be more accountable and only purchase medicine that was required.

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