PNG Health Minister Assures Medicines Will Be Monitored

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Government to review, improve procurement process: Malabag

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 2, 2014) – Papua New Guinea Health Minister Michael Malabag has assured the country that medical supplies imported into the country will be monitored for quality.

In a statement on Monday, Malabag said he had instructed his department to monitor a contract with importer Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals, "to make sure that we receive quality medicines."

"Processes to get the medicines into the country have begun and we cannot afford any further delay in the process as we cannot afford to have a stock out of medicines," he added.

Controversy over the supply and distribution of drugs and medical kits to the country’s health centres was sparked when Australia last week announced it was pulling out of an agreement to distribute the drugs and kits to more than 3,000 health centres.

Australian officials blamed the pullout on Borneo Pacific not possessing international standard accreditation (ISO 9001) and their links to a Chinese company, North China Pharmaceutical Group.

In 2011, Goethe University researchers in Frankfurt reported that all samples of medicines supplied to Papua New Guinea from the North China Pharmaceutical Group failed to meet quality standards, and one sample was "clearly counterfeit."

Malabag said the government would review its procurement processes as part of a reform initiative to improve procurement and a review would be done on medical supplies laws to be consistent with all other PNG laws.

Addressing Australia’s criticism over the selection of Borneo Pacific, Malabag said: "I must remind all that the Health Department has been using the same tender processes to buy medicines for the country for many years.

"The tender has followed all tender processes as called for under the Public Finances Management Act."

Technical evaluation committees comprising experts from the department had assessed all technical, financial and experiences of the suppliers and their manufacturers to ensure the manufacturers complied with the requirements of the International Standards Organisation and the World Health Organisation.

"In this case a PNG-registered company, Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals won the tender, which resulted in a state contract being cleared by the State Solicitor’s office to effect this transaction.

"The company has been advised and all contract requirements have been negotiated and signed. We are expecting the first shipment of medicines into the country in June.

"I do not understand why Australia carries on interfering when all tender processes followed PNG legal tender processes.

"As far as we are concerned all our tender requirements were complied with."

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