KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — Minister of Health Dr. Douglas Slater has apologized for a glitch that resulted in the suspension of the delivery of medicine to the country by the sub-region’s pharmaceuticals procurement service last year.
Slater said the situation had been resolved and the country had already received a shipment of medicines and more was on the way.
“There were some administrative issues that caused the problems but I am happy to say that all has been resolved early this week,” he told Parliament on Thursday.
“All is well now and I wish to apologize to anyone who has been inconvenienced but I know that that would not have been many persons,” he added.
The government was embarrassed when opposition Senator Daniel Cummings read in parliament in January a letter from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Pharmaceuticals Pool Procurement Service (PPPS) announcing that the delivery of drugs to SVG had been suspended because of lack of payment.
Slater admitted then that he was not aware of the situation. He told Parliament this week that his government had since paid “a substantial amount of money” to the St. Lucia based PPPS after clearing up some “discrepancies” in the accounts.
He further said that because of the global financial crisis, the PPPS, in an effort to maintain its suppliers and to encourage countries to make timely payments, had decided to suspend the accounts of defaulting governments.
Additionally, the payment procedure was changed so that payments were made directly to the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank.
“Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanding in reconciliation of the accounts, St. Vincent got caught up in that,” Slater said.
He said while the delivery of medicines to the country had been suspended, there was no “crisis situation in the supply of medicine”.
He said that those stocks that had run out where “not much different from the normal stock out from time to time”.
“Never, at any time, was any citizens really seriously challenged with lack of supplies or medication,” Slater said.