In order to address issues of delay, erratic supplies and various other problems the cabinet during its recent meeting discussed the rental reagent system and proposals were invited from all the registered suppliers.
A total of three local suppliers/companies submitted proposals. The companies are M/s Ngangpa Pharmacy & Medical Equipment, M/s Ugen Medical Stores and M/s Dzambala Suppliers. After evaluation of proposals based on technical and financial aspects, M/s Ngangpa Pharmacy& Medical Equipment was selected.
A cabinet news release stated that the cost benefit analysis indicate a total saving of Nu 6.18mn per year. In addition to cost savings, the other benefits that can be accrued by introducing the reagent rental system are that of uninterrupted laboratory services due to back-up system and less downtime, savings from not buying the equipment (Approximately Nu 3-5mn).
The introduction of the reagent will also help savings from administrative burden due to tendering formalities while it will improve overall quality of laboratory services through strengthening of IQC System, establishment of NEQAS and accreditation of laboratory services.
The contract will be signed with the selected supplier for 5-6 years and this system will be expanded to other Sections of Laboratory Services and Regional Referral Hospitals in the future.
The health ministry (MoH) is in the process to introduce reagent rental system in the Biochemistry Section under Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Thimphu national referral hospital (JDWNRH).
Under this system, the equipment (Bio-chemistry Analyzer) will be provided free of cost by the company with the condition that the MoH purchase reagents from the same company for a certain contract period. During the period, the equipment will be maintained by the same company.
Under current practices, the MoH procures the laboratory equipment and consumables (reagents, machine parts and accessories) and distributes to the Hospitals. However, this practice is inconvenient for many reasons.
The Long procurement procedures and default by suppliers often lead to erratic supply of laboratory reagents. Secondly, competitive bidding system often results in the selection of multi-brand reagents and equipment (as the selection is based on the lowest evaluated Bids), which makes the implementation of quality assurance system difficult.
Due to difficulty in getting spare parts and availability of limited skills in maintenance, repair, calibration setting, etc. results in interruption and poor quality of laboratory services and lack of proper standardization has resulted in poor quality of laboratory services.
The current practice also gave rise to total dependence on outside vendors due to lack of manufacturing facility and limited technical know-how within the country. Even with signing of annual maintenance contract, the response from the suppliers is still not satisfactory.
Add to that, high maintenance costs are incurred for maintenance and repair of equipment while high capital investment is required to purchase laboratory equipment and reagents.