Fiji Time: 7:08 PM on Monday 19 March

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Not enough

Atasa Moceituba
Friday, July 24, 2015

THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services may purchase basic medicine from Australia and New Zealand with revelations that the country's public hospitals and health centres may not have normal supply until next year.

However, Assistant Minister for Health and Medical Services Veena Bhatnagar said this would only be done if there was a high demand for medicine from hospitals and health centres.

On Wednesday, Minister for Health and Medical Services Jone Usamate said there was a shortage of basic medicine such as penicillin, flucloxacillin, ceferixone, amoxicillin in hospitals and health centres across the country.

Ms Bhatnagar admitted the medicine shortage had been an ongoing issue and they were holding talks with stakeholders on how to address the problem.

"For our immediate demand, we do procure from neighbouring countries — Australia and New Zealand — because they are three hours away from us. It's much easier and faster," Ms Bhatnagar said.

She said the ministry was taking a holistic approach to fixing the process, which she added had not been attended to over a long time.

Ms Bhatnagar said hospitals and health centres should expect slight delays in the supply of medicine for the communities they served.

"If our procedures are not right, we are bound to run short of medicine and actually right now, we are looking into fixing everything so that everything falls into place in time to come.

"There might be delays of a day, two or three."

She said the high demand for basic medicine because of people's ignorance to look after their health could be one of the reasons that contributed to the shortage. The supply of medicine is expected to normalise early next year.

Meanwhile, about 30,000 people have applied and registered for the free medicine scheme.

Of this number, about 7000 are already benefiting.

Despite the medicine shortage, Ms Bhatnagar said the free scheme had been a success and positive feedbacks had been expressed from the public.

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