The Ministry of Health has sought to reassure the public that it is closely managing the national drug supply, following concerns expressed by the Pharmacy Board and pharmacists across the country.

Guardian Media spoke with Pharmacy Board president, Andrew Rahaman, as well as several pharmacists, who confirmed they have not received a supply of certain medications for as long as a year.

Mr Rahaman had noted two key reasons for the development: significant shipping delays, and the fact that the countries manufacturing the drugs are keeping the products for use among their own populations in light of the scarcity of raw materials and manpower, among other challenges.

In an official statement released last night, the Health Ministry said in the face of global supply chain challenges, which have been amplified due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to closely manage the national drug supply.

The Ministry reports:

“Some of the strategies that are continuously employed in this regard include but are not limited to: internal redirection of medical supplies to critical areas of need; application of alternative treatment plans; working closely with local suppliers to access additional markets; and engagement of regional and international member states to access supplies of critical medication.”

The Ministry adds that it has been “leveraging our relationships with regional and international organizations—such as the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organisation (WHO/PAHO), the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

The Ministry of Health also wants to assure the public that it is “using all available channels to ensure that the medical supplies utilized are safe and efficacious” and says it will continue to “monitor this key area of operations”, to ensure it fulfils its mandate of “providing optimum healthcare to patients and to the Trinidad and Tobago population”.