November 18, 2021 | healthcare

KRG plans to increase availability of medicine: official

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is working to make medicine more available by reducing costs and reforming a variety of medicines across the province, the KRG said on Wednesday.

“We have reviewed the supplier base thanks to the data that we have been able to collect through the digital system, and we have compared a list of 48 items. 48 [of the] different types of medicine that the KRG procures every month [are] from the same company across three different provinces, and the highest variation in the cost is 1500% for the same medicine, from the same supplier, to the same customer: the KRG,” Aziz Ahmad, deputy chief of staff to the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Ahmad spoke on a panel discussion about “modern era governance” in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq at the Middle East Peace and Security (MEPS) forum at the American University of Kurdistan (AUK) in Duhok, which is running for the third day.

“On health, we’ve identified savings of 35 percent… [with] the savings we make on the contracts, our goal is to pivot that into making sure medicine is readily available, [more] MRI scanners, and reducing people’s waiting times. It makes a real visceral change to people’s lives,” he added.

The government has reduced state expenditure and made increasing savings in their reforms, the deputy chief of staff told the audience, commenting that the government now saves over 1.5 billion each year

“We came into the government with over 50 websites for the KRG… we’ve consolidated that into a single online platform,” said Ahmad. “Fifty websites means 20-25 suppliers, it means 20-25 contracts, it means 20-25 maintenance contracts, it means employing people into the government to stay and manage those contracts… this is an old way of doing business, and it doesn’t work so we’re trying to build a new model.”

The Kurdistan Region has seen drug shortages in the past, and many areas are experiencing them still. The Sulaimani health directorate this week warned of a shortage “because the government hasn’t spent their budget for them since February this year,” Hersh Said Salim, deputy head of Sulaimani’s health directorate told Rudaw.

Aso Hawezi, KRG health spokesperson, said in a press conference the same week that the medicine shortage in Sulaimani is “a budget issue, an issue directly related to the ministry of finance.”

The KRG has begun a reform programme aiming to increase revenues, decrease operational expenditure, increase transparency, and digitize departments.


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