Companies like Meddent, EBOS, Boucher and Muir, Premier Biomedical, City Pharmacy etc have been around for some time and no doubt have made quite a lot of money from supplying the people of PNG with medical goods they sources from various manufacturers.
Thats great but I would personally want to see these companies contribute more towards the development of the health system in PNG and especially the medical supplies procurement system which is currently highly fragmented, disorganised and practically unmonitorable.
From a business strategy point of view some businesses may actually benifit from and wish not to change this status quo. They may not see any advantage in contributing towards the improvement of the procurement system. They may think that to change the status quo would damage their bottom line by increasing their business expenses by them having to do more.
When one sees it from this pure business point of view there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a beneficiary of a poor system. These medical supplies companies have no obligations to help improve the system and with plenty of money pouring into their accounts with the current fatigued and debilitated system there is certainly no financial incentives for these companies to go out of the way to change it?
How I see things it is highly unlikely that the desired and motivation to do things to improve the system will originate from any of the existing established medical goods supply companies in PNG. An authentic desire for this will only be seen in a company that has PNG’s developmental interest at it’s core and sees it’s role as a critical building block in the development of the health system and the nation in general. This desire is more likely to come from a locally owned company and/or from a manufacturer of an appropriate product.
The National Department of Health has broad policies to encourage local companies to get into the medical supplies industry and there are talks of making changes to these policies that may give more opportunities for nationals to get a foot in the door. These are important policies but they must be coupled with regulatory requirements that somehow obligates ALL companies whether foreign or nationally owned to contribute towards the development of the systems of procurement and health delivery in general in PNG. This will help to create a more level playing field and shine some much needed light into the dark, disorganised and fragmented medical supplies procurement system. It is my hope that in the near future we can see more and more medical goods manufacturers setting up their own distribution depots in PNG either on their own or in “true partnership” with local companies. When this happens the costs will be driven down significantly for the GoPNG, the perineal problem of lack of aftersale service support will decrease and we will start seeing more suppliers in the market with a genuine interest in seeing tangible improvements in our health system.
Fig: Staff from Meddent one of the wealthiest medical supplies company and is an agent of Johnston and Johnston, Ortho Clinic Diagnostic hastily deliverying reagents for the Vitros 4600 biochemistry analyser at PMGH.