Hundreds of millions of dollars in drugs and medical supplies were left damaged and spoiled due to poor storage, according to a performance audit into the management of drugs and medical supplies at the Ministry of Health and Regional Health facilities.
“Millions were wasted from spoilt and damaged supplies due to poor storage, which left Guyanese without needed supplies,” the Office of the Auditor General said in the report laid before the National Assembly on Monday.
The performance audit report, which covered the period January 1, 2015 to August 15, 2018, revealed that in the three years, approximately $950M in drugs and medical supplies had expired.
“As well, over 4000 spoilt vaccines were seen among usable supplies. Supplies were damaged in private warehouses, because there were no agreements specifying storage conditions,” the Audit Office said.
Further, the Audit Office found that essential items were out of stock for extremely long periods.
“Poor inventory management and the absence of buffer stock at the Materials Management Units and Regional Health Facilities led to frequent stock-outs of essential drugs and medical supplies. The Units were unable to supply 43% of requests from Health Facilities. Further, Health Facilities had to wait as long as 50 days to collect much needed supplies,” the Audit Office explained.
It said too that during the specified period, contracts did not include clauses to prevent late delivery or to facilitate the recovery of payments from suppliers who did not deliver the items. Citing an example, the Audit Office pointed out that at the end of August 2018, 12 suppliers did not deliver drugs and medical supplies valued at $346M from purchases made from 2015 to 2017. In October 2020, one of the suppliers delivered $40M in supplies, however, supplies valued at over $306M are still to be delivered.
The performance audit confirmed the fears of stakeholders that large sums of monies were being spent for the acquisition of drugs and medical supplies in the absence of proper systems for storage at the primary, regional and clinical healthcare facilities.
Given the deficiencies within the system, the Audit Office has made a total of 11 recommendations to the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary and the Regional Executive Office, intended to address the shortcoming, thereby, improving the management of drugs and medical supplies.