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The Government could spend upwards of $2 billion on a partnership initiative for the dispensing of pharmaceuticals within the public health sector over the next three years, Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, has announced.
In his contribution to the 2009/10 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Wednesday (July 15), Mr. Spencer said that a submission, proposing a partnership between the Ministry of Health and private pharmacies, is currently before Cabinet for consideration.
Alluding to Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding’s announcement of the administration’s decision to effect changes to the operations of Health Corporation Limited(HCL), with a view to improving the procurement and supply of drugs to the health sector, Mr. Spencer advised that the “necessary due diligence” was undertaken and that “some decisions have been taken.”
“The Ministry of Health, through the National Health Fund (NHF), will partner with the private pharmacies to dispense drugs on behalf of the Government. The submission (to this effect) is before the Cabinet for consideration,” he informed.
Mr. Spencer explained that in light of the current challenging economic climate, the initiative would be implemented on a phased basis over three years, 2009/10 to 20011/12. He said that the preliminary cost to implement and operate the proposal would amount to approximately $2.34 billion for the first phase this year. this is already accounted for in the 2009/10 budget, with a $2.24 billion allocation and a $300 million grant from the NHF.
“In year two (2010/11), an additional $416.13 million will be required, and only an incremental amount of $131 million for year three (2011/12),” he outlined.
Mr. Spencer also advised the House that some 142 items have been added to the vital, essential and necessary (VEN) list of pharmaceuticals dispensed within the public health sector, to bring the total to 738. These include medication for cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
He also announced that the training of Pharmacy Technicians to take up positions in the public sector health system, has commenced. This is part of the Ministry’s efforts to attract staff from the private sector and “free up” highly trained Pharmacists from some tasks.
“So far, we (have) trained two cohorts (of Pharmacy Technicians), comprising 30 persons. A third cohort will begin training in September,” he said
Mr. Spencer also noted that the Health Ministry is collaborating with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to undertake a pharmaceutical survey, among individual and community households, to determine the effectiveness of the service.
The development of a pharmaceutical policy is expected to be completed this year, he also stated.