SAMES needs to be transformed into a public enterprise to solve the medicines stockout problem: SANTANA

SAMES needs to be transformed into a public enterprise to solve the medicines stockout problem: SANTANA

Executive Director of Timor-Leste’s Medical and Pharmaceutical Supply Agency (SAMES), Santana Martins

DILI, december 22, 2022 (TATOLI) – The Executive Director of the Timor-Leste Medical and Pharmaceutical Agency (SAMES.IP), Santana Martins said that to solve the problem of essential medicines stockout in the country, SAMES must be transformed into a public enterprise.

“As we have always made public that we want SAMES to be transformed into a public enterprise. This would help to ensure the sustainability of medicines at SAMES. In addition, we will also have the opportunity to run commercial activities that would produce income for the country,” Santana told reporters in Dili, today. 

He said it is time for the nation not to rely exclusively on the Petroleum Fund, instead of generating revenue for the country through public enterprises.

“Since 2004, communities have always complained about the stockout of medicines. Therefore, the transformation of SAMES into a public enterprise would help the institute to run its commercial activities. But the government should also allocate a budget to enable the institution to start its commercial activities. Thus, health facilities, and national and referral hospitals need to have their own budget to buy medicines from SAMES. This would help SAMES to continue purchasing medicines regularly to ensure the sustainability of medicines in Timor-Leste,” Martins explained. 

He reiterated that public enterprise is the only preferred option to end the country’s medicine stockout problem. 

“We have only provided the options. However, deciding the status of SAMES as being a public institute or a public enterprise depends on the Government’s decision,” Martins added. 

Martins said that to ensure the sustainability of medicines in the country, the Government should invest US$31 million. 

“All private and public pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics must purchase medicines from SAMES to help the institution produce revenue. According to Decree-Law No. 12 on Pharmaceutical Activities, SAMES is the only supplier of medicines in the country. Unfortunately, what is happening at the moment is the opposite,” he explained. 

He said so far, every year, Timor-Leste’s expenditure on medicines per capita is only US$2.91: “In 2019, WHO recommended the government to spend US$13 annually on medicines per capita. Unfortunately, the government allocated only US$9.2 million from the 2023 State General Budget to SAMES, of which US$5.6 was for the procurement of medicines. This is not enough, as we made it public that we would face difficulties with the medicines stockout from april to may 2023.”

At the same place, WHO Policy Advisor Vinay Bothra said when looking at the overall budget allocated to SAMES, more budget is certainly needed to ensure that Timor-Leste does not face medicine stockout to ensure that all people get high-quality and free cost medicines.” 

“It is difficult with the current allocation to ensure that there is no stockout. So. An increase in the budget for SAMES would be very helpful. But like the Minister of Health, Odete Belo had said, money is one part and management is the other. So, the management structure of SAMES and human resources needs to be strengthened as well,” Bothra said. 

According to global standards, a bucket of 200 essential medicines, there should be about US$13 to US$25 per capita, every year: “This is the kind of standard that Timor-Leste should slowly aspire to, so the chances of medicines stockout become less and less. 

In 2004, the status of the SAMES was a public enterprise. In 2015, the government transformed the institution into a public institute.



Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges 


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