Bank process delaying medicine deliveries

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The Ethiopian Pharmaceuticals Supply Agency (EPSA), an institution providing pharmaceuticals, laboratory reagents, medical equipment and supplies is saying banking procedures are delaying getting medicine to public.
Officials of EPSA said this while presenting their nine month performance report to the parliament in mid week.
EPSA has blamed the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia’s procedures for over 300 containers of medicine and medical equipment languishing at Modjo Dry Port. The agency opened a letter of credit (LC) at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia months ahead to ease the process of procurement and deliver the medicines on time.
According to Goitom Gigar, Deputy Director of the Pharmaceuticals Fund and Supply Agency, the containers have stayed for months at Modjo Dry Port which has an impact on the shelf time of the medicine. They are asking CBE to provide the service with copies.
The time taken at the dry port incurs extra cost, like demurrage expenses in which the agency is obliged to add on the medicines’ cost, Goitom said.
The agency said the bank is not processing payments on time to suppliers of the drug, leaving the medicines and medical equipment at the dry port to stay a long time which sometimes creates shortage of medicines.
EPSA officials urge law makers to push government officials to create an effective system, which will avail payment of documents to the agency’s medicine and medical equipment suppliers on time.
“We need the bank to release the money budgeted for medicine procurement at the right time and free the containers,” he said, adding, it is due to the inconvenience, that “we face medicine shortages at times”.
“Although the agency has a formal agreement with CBE to avail a specified amount of money in a specific period, the bank is not providing the documents showing the release of that money on time,” said Goitom.
In addition to CBE’s bureaucratic producers, the agency is paying demurrage costs for the containers holding medicines, which, he said, is not the case in other countries.
According to the officials of the agency, the supply rate of pharmaceuticals has risen from 72 percent to 95 percent in 12 hospitals in Addis chosen for the program. And EPSA has imported medicines and medical equipment worth 10 billon birr in this fiscal year.
According to the officials, the agency is working hard to meet the demand of medicines throughout the country and confirm the availabilities of all medicines in the country.