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CDAP drugs being stolen

By Rachael Espinet Thursday, December 19 2013

The Ministry of Health is looking into claims that people are stealing drugs from the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP). This was revealed yesterday by Health Minister, Dr Fuad Khan at the Sangre Grande General Hospital.

“There are a lot of drugs that are deficient. We have a very large CDAP population. What I am doing as we speak is trying to stream line that programme. There is a lot of duplication, a lot of pilferage of pharmaceuticals,” Khan said.

The Chronic Disease Assistance Programme provides citizens with free prescription drugs and other pharmaceutical items to treat many chronic health conditions. However, some drugs like baby aspirin appear to be in short supply.

On Tuesday Dr Shehenaz Mohammed, the chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) went on record stating that there was a shortage of baby aspirin, and possibly other drugs throughout the NCRHA.

Khan said the “numbers were not adding up” when it came to the drugs in CDAP. That led to the ministry officials suspecting that the drugs were being stolen.

“There is a lot of duplication, a lot of pilferage of pharmaceuticals. When we are supposed to be looking after 300,000 people, it looks like we are looking after 600,000 people,” he said. Khan said once the health card comes into place there would be more accountability in CDAP. When asked if it were staff from the ministry who were stealing the CDAP drugs, Khan said he was not inferring such things, and they would have to investigate the situation.

He said the ministry was in the process of giving the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) more autonomy to purchase their own drugs. Asked when the RHAs would be able to become more autonomous, Khan said it would happen, but such moves would take time.

Dr Stephan Bhagan, the chairman of the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) said that while the ERHA does not have a deficiency of CDAP drugs, they have to still distribute the drugs sparingly, because some of their supplies are short.

Addressing the issues around the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ameena Ali, Bhagan said the managers are trying with her.

Earlier this month, the ERHA board issued a letter of termination to Ali over her alleged lack of “inter-personal” skills. However, the board withdrew their termination letter one day after meeting with Khan.

Though Ali was not present yesterday at the hospital, both Khan and Bhagan said her absence was because she was indisposed.

“She had something this morning,” Bhagan said, “The managers are trying their best. In the end of the day all of these people are treasured members of ERHA, and they are doing their best.”

Khan was at Sangre Grande General Hospital to tour the facilities, and see the progress of the new radiology centre, and a new pharmacy building.

Khan said that the building was supposed to be completed by August. 2013 but now they are looking into finishing it in April, 2014.

While Khan was at the hospital, he decided to spread some Christmas cheer by distributing toys and fruits to children in the paediatric ward. In total, 11 girls and boys received gifts for the Christmas season.

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