The “overestimation” of the needs of the Ministry of Health for face masks leads to a surplus – ARAB TIMES
“The ministry lacked vision in managing the health crisis”
KUWAIT CITY, June 6: According to informed sources, the Ministry of Health’s need for medical masks under normal circumstances is approximately 400,000 per month. Assuming the ministry needed ten times that amount in times of crisis, that would mean four million masks per month, which equates to 48 million masks per year if the crisis continues, reports the Al-Qabas daily. Such a figure means that it would take almost 13.5 years for the Department of Health to use these masks, assuming a mask’s lifespan is permanent, and not just three years from the date of manufacture. . However, approximately more than a year has passed since the date of manufacture and importation of the masks, which means that the remaining validity period does not exceed two years. In the event that the crisis ends within two years and the consumption of masks returns to the normal level of 400,000 masks, the Ministry of Health will need 4.8 million masks per year. That means the amount it imported is enough for 125 years to use just 600 million masks, with an estimate that its medical executives will use 50 million masks during the COVID-19 crisis.
Based on this logic, the contracts of the Ministry of Health reveal the lack of strategic planning in government agencies, especially in times of crisis. His success in a specific case does not mean that he must silence his exaggeration by wasting tens of millions of dinars with little return on the country and its inhabitants. Health industry sources have revealed that the Ministry of Health is spending such a large amount of money on just one product. This is proof of the absence of prudent crisis management plans, as an amount of around KD 80 million would guarantee the establishment of the largest factory in the Middle East for the manufacture of medical masks and other related products. It is known that running such industries is not complicated and Kuwait managed to establish four mask factories during the crisis. The mask file has become a model for the lack of accurate assessment of purchases by some government agencies.
This reveals several negative aspects such as the absence of general plans and policies for crisis and disaster management, the inability to take advantage of the capacities available in the country, and decision-making without involving the greatest number of specialists. and relevant authorities to benefit from their expertise. Other negative effects result in huge spending using public money in times of budget deficit without conducting sufficient feasibility studies on government needs, and violation of budget execution rules of government agencies, as well as lack of interest in supporting local activities related to primary medical supplies, lack of transparency in import procedures in accordance with regulatory reports, invoices without details on the number of masks imported and the cost of shipping, and incurring public funds the costs of shipping line agents, the costs of flooring and customs clearance of containers, transport and unloading costs.
In the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kuwait, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Public Authority for Industry provided the necessary licenses to establish four mask manufacturing factories by facilitating the process. procurement of equipment, manufacturing machinery and raw materials. from outside Kuwait. These factories covered part of the needs of the local market during the crisis, and also helped a large mask factory to increase its production capacity by helping to transfer a new production line from abroad. The masks and products from most of these new factories have been approved by the Department of Health as suitable for “surgical” and traditional medical use.
Medical sources said: “How could a government agency force regulators to import medical supplies such as masks when one of the shipments has been in port for up to 30 days until the ministry authorize it and send it back to its warehouses? This led the state budget to incur additional sums due to the delay in transporting the cargo. The Ministry of Health sent a letter to the State Audit Office on April 6, 2020 indicating that the departments’ need for medical masks during the month of March 2020 was 145 million medical masks. However, the State Audit Office, upon verification, found that the monthly consumption rate is much lower than the ministry estimate. The bureau called this estimate an exaggeration and pointed out the inaccuracy in the estimate of need, which led to the state budget being charged huge sums that could have been avoided had it verified the estimates and matches actual mask requirements. In summary, the ministry overestimated the need for masks and other necessities. He lacked vision in the management of the health crisis and ordered quantities without estimating their expiration date. The cost of the imported quantity was enough to build the largest factory for its production locally. The budget was exhausted by buying unnecessary quantities.