– assure PAC expired drugs not being distributedThe Region Seven Administration was, during Monday’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting, put under the microscope over the fact that with millions spent on drugs, the region could not provide satisfactory answers pertaining to their purchases.Regional Executive Officer Rodrick Edinboro and Regional Health Officer Dr Edward Segala, appearing before the PAC, were questioned on several red flags that were raised in the Auditor General’s 2016 Report.Region Seven officials appearing before the PAC on MondayAccording to the report, “the sum of $64.496 million was budgeted for the procurement of drugs and medical supplies under the Health Services Programme for 2016. According to the Appropriation Account, the sum of $50 million was expended as at 31 December 2016.“This amount was transferred by way of inter-departmental warrant (IDW) 2504/2016 on 25th May 2016, to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) (to) procure drugs and medical supplies for the region. According to the financial return sent from the MoPH, the sum of $46.899 million was expended, and unspent balance, $3.101 million, was credited to the Appropriation Account.”“The report noted that despite drugs and medical supplies being received by the Regional Administration, the cost was not stated on the documentation that accompanied the deliveries. As a result, the Audit Office could not determine whether the full value was received for the sum warranted to the MoPH.”That was in 2016. When the regional officials were asked whether they had received value for the monies spent on drugs, a value still could not be provided.PAC member Juan Edghill berated the regional officials for their inability to account for monies spent on these drugs. There were instances when drugs were procured directly.Questioned, the REO noted that drugs were procured an on emergency basis, but when the Regional Health Officer explained that there are shortages of emergency drugs, Opposition Parliamentarian Nigel Dharamlall questioned the chronic disease medication shortage when billions are spent on drug procurement each year.Segala explained that because of Region Seven’s geographic location, it is difficult. Says they service more than Region Seven.Expired drugsThe report also noted that audit checks had revealed there were, in the regional administration’s possession, 23 types of expired drugs which are still to be destroyed. But since there was no value stated on the documents for the items, a total cost of all drugs destroyed could not be ascertained.Edghill raised concerns over whether expired drugs were being distributed to hinterland residents. According to Segala, however, the expired drugs were not being distributed. Segala also noted that the drugs have been destroyed, but all is still not well with the system.“The system is a challenging one. For example, at the level of a hospital, where you have a pharmacist…it is much easier to notice and to tell whether a particular medication is going to expire within a certain timeframe,” he explained.“The challenge, though, would come from the far-flung areas; in our case Upper Mazaruni and Middle Mazaruni, where there is no pharmacist…so supervision can be quite challenging,” he noted.