MIRI, June 10 ― The Ministry of Health (MoH) has been asked to make ad-hoc arrangements for its pharmaceutical supplier Pharmaniaga to temporarily assist general practitioner (GP) clinics in Miri facing unusual acute shortage of essential paediatric medicine supplies.

Minister in charge of Miri Division Disaster Management Committee Datuk Seri Lee Kim Shin pledged to bring this urgent matter to the attention of the state and federal government following their plea for assistance from the Ministry of Health (MoH) to share drug supplies.

“I have already informed Deputy Premier Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is also Minister for Public Health, Local Government and Housing, to convey to the Federal Minister of Health,” he told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

Drug shortage is currently a global issue at suppliers and manufacturers level and the government procures supplies through Pharmaniaga while GPs have their own procurement system.

Lee said there is an urgent need for MoH to see how it can help to secure the supply of those common but essential drugs for the private medical clinics or hospitals.

“Otherwise all those patients under private medical care will also go to government clinics or hospitals ― this will drain their resources and cause further congestion,” he told The Borneo Post when asked to comment on the issue.

Several GPs when contacted declined to comment while Miri General Practitioners Association chairperson Dr Safrina Othman said she is consulting members for the big picture on this medicine shortage issue in Miri and will issue a statement later.

Code Blue Malaysia in its website reported that a private Children & Heart Specialist Clinic has asked for help from Miri Hospital to sell or loan medical supplies, as it will run out of all paediatric medicines in three to five days or a week at best.

Datuk Dr Philip Raja said the out-of-stock medicines at his clinic are bronchospasm medicines like syrup salbutamol and nebuliser inhaler solution for asthma; common antibiotics such as amoxicillin and cloxacillin, erythromycin, cephalexin, and other syrup antibiotics for children; common antihistamine medicines for cough and cold like dexchlorpheniramine, cetirizine, Actified, Mucosolvan; as well as antispasmodic medications Buscopan and Colimix to treat abdominal cramps.

He has run out of ventolin nebules and ventolin solutions to treat asthma for more than two weeks, and his predicament is shared by many other clinics in the city.

Private clinics treat a high number of asthmatic patients in Miri and taking them out of the equation could lead to Miri Hospital being overwhelmed with severe asthmatic admissions while the danger of Covid-19 still lurks.

Dr Raja looked forward to a prudent approach for a win-win situation for all parties to tide over while suppliers scramble to get medical supplies.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told the press Tuesday that medicine supplies at public clinics and hospitals are currently sufficient, even as he confirmed shortages of certain antibiotics, paediatric medicines like cough and flu syrups, as well as other common medications for flu, cough, and fever across several private clinics and pharmacies. ― Borneo Post