Solomon Islands
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Shortage of Medical Drugs Addressed

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has noted concerns and experiences raised and shared via print and social media over shortages of some medical drugs including delays with release of medical containers held at Solomon Ports throughout last week.

MHMS acknowledged these concerns and would like to provide some updates in this regard especially on the national stock levels, combined efforts with other line ministry and partners to speed up replenishments of stocks and distribution across the country.

As of last week, national stock availability level for medical drugs is 78 percent and
94 percent for consumables. While consumables are within sufficient supply range
for the next 6 months, 78 percent drug stock level still remains below the recommended threshold of 85 percent. This has been the cause for shortages of
some medicines experienced across the country.

Nevertheless, this 78 percent drug stock levels is expected to improve as work on
offloading 13 containers at the National Medical Store (NMS) and release of
remaining 12 containers at the Solomon ports is progressing, let alone 3 more 40
foot containers scheduled to arrive this month.

With the 13 containers currently being offloaded at NMS, 5 containers contain
normal saline, 4 containers of Personal Protective Equipment and 2 containers
containing plaster, cotton wool, peanut ruff (Nutritional supplements for kids) and an incinerator for the National Referral Hospital. 5 have been emptied this week and returned to Port.

Remaining 12 containers at the Solomon Ports have been cleared and loading to
NMS have commenced this week and will continue over the weekend. Of the 12
containers 1 contains gum boots, 1 with Anti-Malaria drugs (coartem), 1 container of antiseptics and disinfectants, 2 containers of sodium lactate compound infusion that is used for rehydration and replacements of minerals in body and 6 more containers of normal saline and 1 container of antibiotics.

National Medical Store is continuously in touch with Solomon Ports on weekly basis
regarding these containers, as opposed to claims that health is not taking any
responsibility for the remainder of the containers at the ports.

Moreover, the Ministry of health has been working closely with the Ministry of
Finance and partners and at no point in time blamed the Ministry of Finance for the
delays with release of the containers from Solomon Ports as reported on the media.
Rather, it has requested finance to prioritise release of medical supplies held with
Solomon Ports.

Health has been reaching out to partners for support to address outstanding bills
with suppliers and remains grateful for the support rendered so far from the
Government of Australia in terms of finance and medical supplies and the New
Zealand Government that has recently provided 3 million SBD to clear outstanding
bills with suppliers, international and domestic shipping agents and operators and
port charges.

From the 3 million provided by the Government of New Zealand, imprest threshold
held with NMS has been increased from 50,000SBD to 150,000SBD.

Maximum amount that can be written on one cheque under this 150,000SBD imprest has also been increased by MoFT from 5000SBD to 20,000SBD meaning any charges between 5,000SBD and 20,000SBD can easily be accommodated in one cheque thus reducing lead time to make payments, clear bills and release the containers from the port. Discussions is continuing with other partners.

The Ministry on this note wish to acknowledge our donor partners for the support
rendered and the Ministry of Finance for responding to health requests for
prioritization of payment of medical containers and with outstanding bills.

Arrangements for domestic distribution to replenish stocks in the provinces is also
underway to swiftly ship the new stocks being offloaded after they are recorded and repackaged for shipment. Other alternative arrangements for local shipment to the provinces are also being discussed and considered, any tangible outcomes from
these discussions will be conveyed.

As highlighted in previous statements, multiple factors have caused the delays to
replenish stocks and distribute across the country in a timely manner from dispatch
from the manufacturer to international shipment, clearance at the ports, offloading
from containers to shipment to the provinces.

Health is working to address each causes of delays in these supply chain points that is within its control and is optimistic to greatly reduce lead time to replenish the drugs stocks to achieve 85 percent and more of national drugs stock levels, bearing in mind increased consumption rate.

Next update will be provided next week so we are all kept informed of the situation.

Source: Press Release, Ministry of Health and Medical Services