NHF/HCL merger bill for Senate Friday


The Senate is expected to give its approval to a Bill amending the National Health Fund (NHF) Act, to make the Fund responsible for procuring, warehousing and distributing medical supplies for Government-owned health facilities, when it meets on Friday (November 12).
Minister of Health, the Hon Rudyard Spencer, negotiated the Bill through the House of Representatives, where it was approved on Tuesday (November 9). It proposes the integration of the core functions of the Health Corporation Limited (HCL), which has up to now been responsible for these functions, into the NHF which is expected to yield initial savings of some $60 million.
“This transfer of responsibility seeks to integrate and strengthen the current system of procurement, warehousing and distribution of pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies within the public health sector, to make them more effective, improve cost efficiency and allow for the winding up of HCL,” Mr. Spencer told the House on Tuesday.
He said that, consequent on the amendment, the NHF’s functions would be expanded to include: establishment and maintenance of a national inventory management system for pharmaceutical services; exploring and entering into a public/private partnership arrangement to increase patients’ access to drugs; providing institutional benefits to health programmes and projects; developing programmes to address specific national health needs; procuring, warehousing and distributing drugs and medical supplies to the health sector; and managing the DrugServ pharmacies.
The decision to integrate aspects of the HCL into the NHF resulted from a structural review of the current system of procurement and distribution of medical and pharmaceutical supplies within the public health sector, and is aimed at strengthening the systems to make them more effective.
The review was done with the assistance of the board and management of the HCL, the Public Sector Modernization Division and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

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