By Confidente Reporter
A massive shortage of drugs looms in the country with Nampharm a company that supplies a big chunk of drugs to the state, private hospitals and pharmacies revealing last week that as from this week it won’t be able to import drugs anymore unless its paid N$133 million its owed by Government and private health institutions.
However the company has since claimed that it has put plans in place to addre ss the emi n e n t t h re at wh i ch c o u l d lead to loss of lives.
Nampharm (Pty) Ltd is a pharmaceutical wholesaler and distributor of generic and front-shop consumer products to hospitals, doctors and pharmacies.
Nampharm’s Managing Director Ruanda de Beer said if they don’t receive any payment as soon as possible medicines for chronic illnesses like diabetes, depression and high blood pressure will run out.
She also confirmed that drugs for malaria have since run out of stock and they can’t import them until the company is paid.
“The budget cuts have severely affected us. It’s not only the malaria drugs we can’t import from the middle or end of this month. We are owed N$133 million and without getting that payment we won’t be able to import any drugs for illnesses like depression, diabetes and high blood pressure. We won’t be able to purchase anything, all medic i n e s even a s pirin. We need critical payment otherwise we won’t be able to supply any drugs,” De Beer said.
She also revealed to Confidente that since the end of last year they have been struggling to get payment from Government and private health institutions.
“They have said they will make payment but no payments are being made to us. The non-payment started late last year,” she said.
However, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Dr Andreas Mwoombola said Government started settling its Nampharm account last month.
“The Ministry of Health and Social Services started settling the Nampharm account in February 2017, and is now busy processing payments of the remaining account. On the issue of Nampharm not being able to import any drugs, the Ministry of Health was not aware of this situation and will have to put measures to avoid running out of crucial drugs,” Dr Mwoombola said.
The looming shortage of critical drugs comes amid another health crisis where the Ministry of Finance has announced that it won’t release at least N$125 million reportedly owed to health service providers across the country until it concludes an investigation into possible fraudulent claims submitted.
Confidente last month broke the story that medical service providers claimed around N$125 million, a new record high from an average N$55 million monthly in the history of the medical aid scheme. This has prompted the Ministry of Finance to not only tighten its purse but also to establish whether the claims are legitimate or if service providers inflated their rates to fleece Government.
Confidente recently established that the Finance Ministry put in place a review committee comprising of members from different health institutions to audit the claims.
The country has also been battling a volatile economic climate that has among others led to treasury last year cut its national budget as treasury tried to reduce a Government budget deficit that was ballooning. The budget deficit is said to have developed as a result of a weaker currency, low revenue from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and poor performance of economies of the country’s major trading partners among other reason.
Although the budget cuts will have positive effects on the country’s economy in the long run the cuts have severely affected companies that mostly depended on Government business for their survival as they worsened a situation that was already on the brink of disaster due to the persistent drought which has triggered the massive retrenchments.
Ruanda de Beer
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