‘I have nothing to hide’ – Lawrence welcomes probe into $605M drug purchase

Minister of Public Health, Ms Volda Lawrence

PUBLIC Health Minister, Volda Lawrence is insisting that the purchase of some $605M worth of medical drugs for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) was above board; that she has nothing to hide, and would welcome an investigation into the transaction.

“I have absolutely no problem with scrutiny,” Minister Lawrence told a journalist Gordon Moseley on a local radio programme on Monday. She said she has already invited the GPHC Board to investigate the matter as a follow up to ensuring that all correct procedures were observed. Minister Lawrence has nonetheless reminded Guyanese that she is responsible for their well-being and will make decisions to their benefit.

“I’m responsible for their health and I am responsible for ensuring that all the medical facilities are operating at a level where they [citizens] can walk in and be served.”

Lawrence in defending the decision said it benefitted the institution in tackling drug shortages and ensuring quality stock within the system. The minister has described the purchase as an “emergency” after a prolonged period of drug shortages.

Media reports show that between February 7 and March 6, 2017 there had been reports of drug shortages in Regions two, three, six and seven. Minister Lawrence, who recently assumed responsibility over the health sector, has however come in for criticisms for what is being described as “sole-sourcing” and a failure to utilise the Public Procurement system.

Minister Lawrence has remained firm however that the decision to push ahead with the $605million pharmaceutical purchase was done in the interest of citizens. During a morning interview on the radio show ‘Jump Start,’ Lawrence reminded citizens that the drug purchase was an, “…emergency to fill a gap that was created because of shortfall by (drug) suppliers in 2016.”