Challenge for the health ministry

IF the Ministry of Health and Medical Services tries to eliminate all wastage of medicines, which are shipped from overseas countries, then there would be an increase in the risk of essential medicines being out of stock.

This was highlighted by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Philip Davies, after questions raised by this newspaper as to how the ministry was working in ensuring the shipment of medicine from overseas arrives into the country on time.

“There is always a balancing act between holding some medicines beyond their expiry date and having sufficient stock on hand to ensure a reliable supply,” Mr Davies said.

“In some cases, medicines which are unacceptably close to its expiry date at the time of delivery may not be accepted.

“In most cases, however, shipping delays do not have a significant impact on our ability to use medicines before their expiry date, but some wastage does inevitably occur – as it does in all warehousing and supply systems.”

Mr Davies said the ministry took note of shipping and delivery times when placing orders for supply of medicines from overseas.

“Fiji’s relatively remote location, small size as a consumer of medicines and lack of a significant domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing sector poses particular, unavoidable challenges for our pharmaceutical services, which the ministry works hard to address,” he said.

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