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Minister admits some hospitals facing shortage of meds

 | October 24, 2017

Subramaniam clarifies however that shortages are not related to funding but are due to supply issues.

s-subramaniam-ministry-of-health-1KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam has admitted that some hospitals have faced a shortage of certain medicines in the past although it was in no way related to “funding issues”.

“There are periods when some hospitals might not have certain types of medicines due to supply and logistical issues.

“When that happens, we advise hospitals to support each other. The pharmacy, as a central agency, has data of stockpiles everywhere so it has the capacity to move supplies and support each other.

“There has been incidents where some companies have not supplied medicines as scheduled. The result was that doctors changed their medications, and the public thought the government did not have the medicines,” he said at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Health Ministry and Standard Chartered Foundation here today.

He was responding to a report in FMT that a spike in patient numbers at government hospitals had caused a shortage of medicines.

The report said that in some instances, hospitals had told patients to seek their medicines or get their tests done elsewhere because of a lack of funds.

Subramaniam said the ministry tried to ensure the continuous availability of basic medications needed for treatment of normal conditions.

“But there are certain conditions that are very expensive to treat. For example, some cancer drugs, especially new ones, are very expensive.

“When we have to make available RM100,000 to treat one patient, that is a challenge. These are the areas where sometimes our doctors have to make choices,” he said, adding however that hospitals had an adequate supply of medicines in 98% of situations.

“If at all we have trouble, it is in the 2% of cases like cancer or involving new drugs called biologicals which are innovative but very expensive.”

Subra said the Ministry of Finance had always been cooperative in increasing the budget when the Health Ministry faced challenges.

“They have always been supportive in giving us an additional budget to sustain ourselves.

“We have submitted our wish list for Budget 2018 to address our acute needs.”

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