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  Lack of central warehouse for free healthcare drugs

November 23, 2015 By Alusine Sesay

While briefing the press on the 4th quarter distribution of about US$3.4 million worth of free healthcare drugs, Managing Director of the National Pharmaceutical Procurement Unit (NPPU) said the country lacks a purpose-built central warehouse capable of providing storage for drugs.

“We continue to rely on rented warehouse, which in most cases do not meet recommended optimal storage conditions. Without proper warehousing, products are at risk of being kept in sub-optimal conditions which may render them unsafe or ineffective,” said Jack Lansana.

Mr. Lansana underscored the dangers of improper and inadequate warehousing, adding “Sub-optimal warehousing can lead to wastage and expiries if supplies are not tracked properly or easily accessible.”

He called on the government and other development partners to intervene and help solve the problem, noting that “In a resource-limited setting it is imperative to make the most of the commodities that are available, and this is only possible when proper warehouse is available.”

He revealed the NPPU recently took practical steps to alleviate some of the challenges posed by inadequate storage facility at the district level by collecting and properly disposing of expired and unserviceable products in collaboration with the District Health Management Teams.

He disclosed to the press that they had completed the third quarter distribution in 2015,with the fourth quarter due to commence on 23 November on to 23 December this year.

He said the fourth quarter distribution would incorporate over 200 products, with a focus on life-saving commodities, and that it would cover 1,209 peripheral health units and 23 hospitals across the country.

He said the process would be conducted with the participation of key stakeholders including the Police, Office of National Security, civil society organisations and health development partners.

The NPPU Managing Director noted that based on lessons learnt with regards the choice of drugs, they now work with staff from the district health management teams and public hospitals that channel direct requests and feedback with the view to getting more drugs and medical supplies to facilities.

He said the unit awarded price–competitive framework contracts for free healthcare drugs and consumables worth US$10 million to seven suppliers. “Although the procurement process has seen major improvements, it has experienced some challenges with delays in funding disbursement which can negatively affect the unit’s relationship with suppliers and ability to competitively negotiate in the future,” he maintained.

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