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Director General of Health Blames MOF’s Slow Payment Process

The Ministry of Finance’s slow payment process has been blamed as the reason for the shortage of some of the medicines at the National Hospital’s Pharmacy. 

By Lagi Keresoma.

APIA, SAMOA – 07 MARCH 2023: The Director General of Health, Aiono Dr. Alec Ekeroma has put blame on the Ministry of Finance slow process which delays payments for the Pharmacy Division’s bills with pharmaceutical companies overseas.

When asked why there has been a shortage of medicines at the hospital, Aiono pointed out MOF’s process for payments as one of the issues.

He said despite how fast they at MOH provide all necessary documents for payments, MOF’s process is very slow; so if there is a delay in paying the Pharmacy’s bills, then we get shortage of certain medicines.

Currently the Pharmacy Division’s unpaid bills stand at $2 million. But this is not due to a lack of money.

“There is a lot of money but the Ministry of Finance process has been very slow,” Aiono told the media outside Parliament this morning.

He is confident that once MOH secures an ACEO for Finance, then that will help with the current payment issues faced by the Pharmacy Division.

He also confirmed that they have a new Procurement Officer paid by the World Health Organisation and that person will assist with speeding things up within the Finance Division.

Aiono also clarified that the other reasons that have added to the shortage of medicines is that Samoa with all the other Pacific island countries are in a pool that rely on New Zealand and Australia for medicine supplies.

“So if New Zealand is short of medicines, then Samoa and other Pacific islands rely on Australia who will disburse medicines accordingly so that every country is covered,” he said.

The other hurdle for shortage of medicine is the delay in shipment.

“We now have a consistent flow of cargo ships which brings medicines every week, but if a medicine is of priority need then we air-freight those,” said Aiono.

However, the major hurdle Aiono wants to see change is the slow process within the Ministry of Finance that has caused the delay in overseas payments for medicine supplies and the reason why some of the medicines are in short supply.