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Port Moresby
March 8, 2021
Health Highlands News Papua New Guinea

WHPHA Face Medicine Shortage Again

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The Western Highlands Provincial Health Authority is facing drug shortages again.

WHPHA is forced to use their operational budget to subsidize the central drug procurement process, by paying area medical stores K6000 a day to get their drugs and medical consumables.

“While we get reasonable deals in the market place, we’re paying basically retail rates for drugs,” said David Vorst, WHPHA CEO.

The issue of the shortage in medical drugs and consumables date back to 2019 and just two weeks ago, the hospital ran out of amoxicillin, an antibiotic that is commonly used in the country.

Syringes and urine bags ere also out of stock.

WHPHA CEO, David Vorst said the huge K76 Million cut in the 2021 Budget for Provincial Health Authorities, and the 54 per cent cut off for drug procurements will likely see more drug and consumable shortages, and closing down of health facilities.

WHPHA CEO, David Vorst, speaking to EMTV News about shortage of drugs

“The government has always said that education and health are a priority, but it’s hard to see it as a priority when you cut K76million off the operations budget,” added Vorst.

He said the same model of procuring drugs is still being used, despite the Public Accounts Committee’s inquiry last year into the procurement process, that had exposed a lot of implications.

“The 2021 outlook for health does not look good at this point and certainly, if there were drug shortages before, there’s going to be drug shortages now.”

The PHA budget cuts, in the 2021 National Budget has seen each PHA’s getting K3.9 Million.

Hospitals such as the Port Moresby General Hospital, and Mt Hagen General Hospital are some of the busiest in the Country, seeing at least two to three hundred patients a day.

At least 30% of the patients that go to Mt Hagen Hospital are from the other Highlands Provinces.

“Enga, Tari and Southern Highlands are getting funded for the patients that WHPHA are treating,” said Vorst.

The WHPHA Board has written letters to provincial and local level governments of Western Highlands, Hela, Southern Highlands and Enga to help, but have received no response as yet.

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