Every consumable product has a shelf life, and it is no different when it comes to health resources and medical supplies. Medicines and medical supplies tend to lose their effectiveness over time and lead to wastage.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 85% is general non-hazardous waste generated by healthcare. It is noted that the quantity of healthcare waste in the Pacific is increasing as population grows demanding more medical services.
Recently, the Pacific Community’s (SPC) Public Health Division facilitated requests for Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) to share medicine and medical supplies that would have otherwise expired.
The Tuvalu Laboratory identified 400 GeneXpert cartridges that were nearing expiring in September and sought assistance with sharing these resources to avoid wastage. The 400 GeneXpert Cartridges were received in Fiji and utilised by the Labasa hospital before the expiry date.
Director for the Public Health Division at SPC, Dr Berlin Kafoa said managing and monitoring medicine and medical supply inventory is important to avoid wastage and what Tuvalu has demonstrated is a good example of how Pacific health labs can utilize supplies and ensure health services are not interrupted due to a shortage or because supplies are expired.
“In addition to this, over the years we have established networks within the Pacific region for health which allows us the opportunity to share resources, capacity development and human resources. The Regional Laboratory Network (LabNet) is one example of the collaborative work undertaken in the region.”
Sharing resources also reduces the risks of wastage and SPC along with the Fiji Centre for Communicable Diseases (Fiji CDC) were able to respond to the Kiribati Health Laboratory’s request for nasopharyngeal swabs.
Dr Berlin said that after a stock take by the Fiji CDC it was noted that they could spare 2000 swabs for Kiribati laboratory to use well before it reaches its expiry date. At the same time Fiji CDC inventory indicated that they were well covered and were receiving more supplies for their use till further notice.
“We are grateful for the collaboration between PICTs as we aim to strengthen efficient continuity of health services, sharing of resources and reduce wastage.”