Pandemic disrupts drug supply

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Fiji’s acting permanent secretary for health Dr James Fong at a press conference in Suva. Picture: ATU RASEA/FT FILE

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the transfer and acquisition of Fiji’s medicine supplies, says Ministry of Health’s permanent secretary Dr James Fong.

Responding to queries from this newspaper, Dr Fong said the shortage of medicine in pharmacies was because of a global supply chain problem.

Dr Fong said a number of medicine orders had been done, and (in most cases) paid for, but the ministry was facing problems with delays in manufacture and/or delays in transferring them into the country.

“We are not alone as many countries throughout the world are in a similar situation,” he said.

“Early in the COVID-19 outbreak, the negative effect on supply chains was predicted as a long-lasting adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Unfortunately, mitigating this adverse impact will require remodelling our supply chain management system.

“This remodelling had been initiated and is currently ongoing.”

Dr Fong assured members of the public that they were taking their concerns on board and that the free medicine scheme was currently being redesigned to address some of these issues.

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