BUJUMBURA January 24th (ABP) – The Social, Gender, Repatriation, Equal Opportunities and AIDS Control Commission of the National Assembly of Burundi released in Bujumbura on Tuesday, January 22, 2018, a report that it produced on the functioning of the Public Service Mutual (MFP). The said report was presented in plenary session and in the presence of the Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, Mr. Martin Nivyabandi.
According to MP Alfred Banyikwa, chairman of that commission, the trips were carried out in the Bujumbura City and in the interior of the country from 15 to 17 November 2018. During these trips, he said, the commission met with at least five categories of people, including MFP affiliates, MFP representatives in the provinces, private hospital officials, and MFP employees. The heads of the pharmaceutical companies that collaborate with the MFP and the MFP Director General were also met.
MFP affiliates said they have a lot of trouble during the patient’s tour, including painful access to medical order and the inhospitality of hospitality services. Affiliates are sometimes obliged to go down to Bujumbura, because of the unavailability, in the interior of the country, of certain services or medicines, especially specialties and so on. In addition, the report says, the 80% for generics and 70% for specialties, normally supported by the MFP for its affiliate, are no longer respected; private pharmacies that collaborate with the MFP require other fees.
Representatives of the MFP in the provinces and officials at the highest level have expressed and targeted some challenges, namely the irregularity that characterizes the supply of drugs (requisition) that causes the out of stock. There is also the loss due to some insurance companies which refuse to pay the MFP bills, the huge loss associated with taking care of pensioners with chronic diseases, which requires a lot of resources, and some cases of cheating where affiliates take care of children who are not theirs or husbands who take care of the second wife and the like.
The MFP General Directorate has told the Commission that it faces many challenges that prevent it from satisfying its customers. Some of these are for example the public procurement code not facilitating the MFP in the purchase of drugs, the lack of access to the industries that manufacture those drugs as it was before, the award of contracts that takes a long time thus delaying the deliveries. There is also the monopoly of the ALCHEM and MULTIPHAR companies which are both wholesalers and retailers and so on.
After the trip, the commission has listed a questionnaire to send to the Minister of Human Rights, Social Affairs and Gender, Mr. Martin Nivyabandi, to enlighten the spirits. Some questions include the contradictory language between the MFP and private pharmacies about the actual prices of drugs, why the MFP does not support cardiac operations and CT exams. The commission also wanted to know why the MFP employees who sell drugs do not work in weekends, holidays and do not provide guards like doctors and why the MULTIPHAR and ALCHEM companies are at the same time wholesalers and retailers and monopolize the market and so on.
To that commission questionnaire were added questions from other parliamentarians who were in the hall. They wanted to know why the pharmacies of the MULTIPHAR and ALCHEM companies never lack drugs while those of the MFP are often empty, the reception services of the MFP which are not at all reassuring, which aggravates the disease in the patient. They also proposed that MFP medicine orders be entrusted to Burundi Drug Purchase Center (CAMEBU).
Minister Nivyabandi also recognizes that the MFP is currently facing many challenges. However, he indicates that everyone in their concern must provide their support. With regard to non-hospitality of reception services, he said that they were being trained on the attitude to take in front of a patient. Apart from these trainings, he added, there are other administrative measures that have been taken that will improve the situation. He further stated that at the level of the tutelage ministry, there has been the establishment of a unit solely in charge of receiving the grievances from the MFP affiliates.
About the MULTIPHAR and ALCHEM companies that monopolize the drug market, Minister Nivyabandi tranquillizes the audience, while stating that CAMEBU will soon take over. At this level, He launches a strong appeal to Burundian investors to embark on that sector, in order to lift that monopoly.
Regarding the contradictory language between private pharmacies and the MFP on the actual prices of certain drugs, Mr. Nivyabandi says that in terms of trade, each individual and especially a private one, always looks how to earn a lot while he has spent little. The role of the State is to always closely monitor these private pharmacies, which requires resources and experts in the field, he said.