ANSA McAl handed $606M contract to “fast-track” medical supplies – Health Minister

first_imgGPHC’s sole-sourcingPublic Health Minister Volda Lawrence has finally broken her silence on the sole sourcing contract with ANSA McAL, saying that the Trinidadian company was granted the $606 million contract to “fast track” the supplies of drugs to the Georgetown Public Hospital.Public Health Minister Volda LawrenceIn her delayed statement to the media, Lawrence also said that the company donated four refrigerators to the hospital, something which no other company, which has been supplying the hospital with drugs over the years has done.“ANSA McAL not only airfreighted the drugs (this helped spike the cost to import the items) for the public health sector, but also donated four refrigerators to GPHC to store the emergency supplies at the internationally acceptable temperature of 20 to 80 (degrees) Celsius,” the Minister’s statement outlined.CrisisThe Minister explained that as a result of a drug shortage crisis at the Georgetown Public Hospital, she met with public health officials to ensure an adequate supply of drugs was immediately made available to address the emergency.Minister Lawrence explained that after meeting with the officials, she sought to “fast-track” the procurement of the drugs to minimize the negative effects on patients as a result of the shortages.President David Granger“This influenced the decision to seek the green light from the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) for ANSA McAL to supply drugs and pharmaceuticals to the tune of some $606 million,” she stated.She also disclosed that NEW GPC, Health 2000 and Chirosyn Discovery had each received contracts to supply some of the emergency drugs. Lawrence explained that other companies were not part of the process because investigations are ongoing into the late/or non-delivery of critical drugs which they were contracted to procure for GPHC during 2016.The Minister also pointed out that the companies, which had been given an opportunity to supply drugs to the nation following the 2015 elections had failed in their bid to so do.“Some of these pharmaceuticals were overdue by as much as six months, which exacerbated the drug shortage at the hospital. These are the same suppliers who, before May 2015, when all the pharmaceuticals for the nation was sole-sourced from New GPC for billions of dollars, were given the opportunity under the Granger Administration to become suppliers of pharmaceuticals to the public healthcare sector,” she admitted.RefrigeratorsThe Minister said Georgetown Public Hospital used icepacks to store these sensitive drugs at the facility, because the main refrigerator was in poor condition and unable to maintain the correct temperature for these drugs, endangering their efficacy, potency and integrity.Regarding the donation of refrigerators from ANSA McAL, Minister Lawrence argued that “no other company in the history of the institution has provided cold storage facilities at the hospital, even though at least one of them was the sole supplier of pharmaceuticals to the institution for over 20 years.” The Minister noted that most pharmaceuticals for the entire nation was sole-sourced from that company for billions of tax-payers’ dollars; but, as admitted by the Minister, the other companies which her administration had decided to “give a chance” had failed to supply the pharmaceuticals.Disciplinary actionsCommenting on the development, President David Granger has said that the matter can be resolved at the level of the Finance and Public Health Ministries, as well as the GHPC, so that disciplinary actions can be taken against persons at fault.“If there is some procedural irregularity, that (situation) can be rectified; and if it is found that somebody is at fault, well, there can be disciplinary actions,” he told reporters on the televised programme ‘The Public Interest’, which aired on Friday.Nevertheless, President Granger has insisted that while it is not the policy of his Government to procure drugs through sole-scouring, there was a crisis in which drugs that were supposed to be supplied since last year were delayed for whatever reason, and actions had to be taken to remedy the situation.Pre-qualificationsThe Government had advanced new mechanisms that changed the way drugs were procured and supplied in the country, in essence decentralising the acquisition and dissemination of medical equipment and drugs to the various Regions, while dissolving the prequalification procedure to give companies that do not qualify to the international prescribed standard and consequent supply chain of prequalification an opportunity to supply drugs.The former Administration was criticised for its position of maintaining the prequalification criteria because critics felt favouritism was at play, when some local prequalified companies, received contracts in Guyana.However, the former Administration had only put those mechanisms, which were modelled after international prequalified suppliers such as the World Health Organisation (WHO); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO); United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), etc, in place to ensure that quality drugs were steadily available for mass public consumption at competitive world market prices, the absence of which would invariably lead to shortages of drugs, since there were no direct established supply chains with companies that are prequalified to deliver the requisite drugs needed.last_img read more