Present at the occasion were the newly-appointed members on the NMSA Board, the Minister of Health and staff of the ministry, the Managing Director NMSA Dr. Lawrence Sandy among several other distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
The National Medical Services Agency (NMSA) was established by an Act of Parliament titled NMSA Act of 2017 to be in charge of all procurement, warehousing and distribution of medical supplies to all public institutions in Sierra Leone in a transparent and cost-effective manner. The Act also clearly states the recruitment terms which should be competitive and transparent process.
The Minister of Health, Dr. Alpha Wurie, he reiterated that the creation of the NMSA was through an Act of Parliament enacted on 11th October 2017. He clarified that it is set up expressly to service health centers across the country but that all public institutions in the country including the Defence Ministry, Education Ministry and all other MDAs will be serviced by NMSA. He added that the NMSA is composed of fifteen departments but that four of these namely Procurement, Operations, Finance and Admin and Internal Audit departments must be set up immediate and that the Board Members have the option of setting up the remaining departments at a later date.
He informed his audience that in past government spent huge chunks of money on warehousing drugs even though the required storage facilities are still inadequate. He added that currently in storage are medical supplies that are either expired or spoiled because they are kept for a long in temperatures that affect their potency.
He further informed his audience that among this stock there are drugs which the government is yet to pay for. He called on the new Management and Board to take stock of these things and do what is needed to right the wrongs. He reminded them that the tenure of Board members is three years.
He further explained that the institution will manage both donor and national funds, adding that around 2013, the government did not spend money to buy free health care drugs as we were 100 % donor dependent to the extent that in 2016 and 2017, DfID actually indicated that they will stop procurement of medical drugs for the country.
“But with this new management and board, “ the new administration has successfully reached an agreement with donors to procure medical drugs but that this time round, the government too would chip in.”
According to the arrangement, in the first year, the government will provide 10% for the procurement of medical drugs and in the second year, the government would provide 30% for the procurement process and in the third year the government agreed to provide 50% of the funds to procure medical drugs.
He maintained that in fact, “instead of 200 free health care drugs only about 70 drug varieties was provided which points to the fact that, the free health care was not effective as we all thought, added to the fact that the number of free health care recipients has increased twofold after the government included Ebola victims and other disadvantaged groups to the list of free health care beneficiaries.”
The Minister went on to say that with this addition, the country will need more than 200 drug varieties for the free health care scheme. He further said that with the new arrangement people are becoming stakeholders and taking ownership in the stockpiling, storage and distribution of free health care drugs. The Minister of Health said he believes in the expertise of Board members and congratulated them for being approved by parliament, adding that he wants them to know that the New Direction government wants to do it right this time round, adding that he is also looking forward to the re-introduction of cost-recovery drugs department which stopped since 2012.
He called on all Sierra Leoneans to protect the assets and use the drugs for the intended purpose, adding that the law will fall heavily on anyone who tries to trivialize or put in disarray the functions of the NMSA.
The Board members are:
1. Alhaji Murtala Sesay – Chairman of Board
2. Mr. David Banya – Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health & Sanitation
3. Mr. Thomas Lansana – Deputy Principal Financial Secretary, Ministry of Finance
4. The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
5. Pharamacist Eugene Conteh – Representative of Pharmaceutical Society of Sierra Leone
6. Mr. Ishmael Philip Mamie – Sierra Leone Bar Association
7. Mr. Henry Kuyembeh – Procurement & Supply Chain Expert
8. Mr. Alphan Tejan Kella – Pharmaceutical Specialist
9. Dr. Kamara – Financial Management Accounting Expert
10. Mr. Alhassan Abubakarr – Civil Society Association