Health quandary reflective of poor systems

THE current acute shortage of essential pharmaceuticals in public institutions such as contraceptives, antibiotics, ARV’s and many others is indicative of a procurement system that is marred with corruption and a tenderpreneurship mentality that is blossoming at the expense of national health.
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Revelations that tenderpreneurs awarded a nearly N$1 billion pharmaceutical contract by the Ministry of Health and Social Services last year have brought the country’s public health system to a near shutdown following their failure to supply more than 60 percent of drugs needed by public health institutions countrywide have profiteering, greed and poor workmanship written all over them.

What is essential to understand is that shortage of essential drugs opens the door to other grave social health concerns and exposes patients to a greater level of risk and therefore should be contained with urgency.

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Indeed, Namibia’s Achilles heel since the rise of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) ideology has been the unrepentant rise of tenderpreneurs that have breached the public tendering process adversely, taken advantage of system loopholes and subjected government to loss of integrity.

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For decades, tenderpreneurs have been magnets of corruption and controversy and at the centre of them, those working as frontmen have crippled the scope of public procurement and their selfish activities have eventually hurt the tender beneficiaries and often, the public watches painfully as every storm blows away with seldom anyone being brought to account.

In the wake of the current crisis, it is time for government to show leadership by holding those responsible to account and ensuring that such bidders would never be given a similar opportunity to exploit the system again.

As a country, we cannot continue to allow these ills to prevail in our society particularly in our health system which holds the key to current and future endeavours as a country and as individual. To imagine that even vaccination drugs for infants have run dry is totally unacceptable and demands urgent resolve.

What is also not acceptable is the Health Ministry’s failure to warn the public of this crisis or at the very least communicate the status quo with its stakeholders.

This shows inefficiencies in a health system that nearly 30 years after independence should be at a better and thriving standard.

With taxpayers in mind, many including this publication have raised concerns of how the Health Ministry has proven to be an easy target of briefcase companies where tenderpreneurs have used financial muscle to hoodwink influential personnel into unfairly and unprocedurally granting them public tenders on their pathway to overnight riches.

It simply does not make sense that at a time when we have a new and strong public procurement regime which is administered by a competent Central Procurement Board, we still have issues of this magnitude at the Ministry of Health where vetted bidders appear to be failing to deliver what they said they are experts at.

These gaps in the current system need to be immediately arrested and decisively dealt with in view of ensuring no Namibian is subjected to a day when they would have to be turned away when they seek help at any public health facility.