Health of Montenegrin citizens must not be subject of trade

Scarcity of medicine in Montenegro is an unusually frequent occurrence, which jeopardises health of people and fundamental rights of patients. This is also the result of highly irresponsible relation of decision-makers towards the health system. On many occasions, shortage of medicine was caused by the termination of procedure of public procurement.

Namely, purchasers make serious omissions while conducting procurement, due to insufficient knowledge on Law on public procurement, inadequate planning of public procurement, untimely initiation of public procurement procedures, discriminatory conditions set in requests for delegation of contract, which later on results in termination of complete procedure. On the other hand, purchasers themselves complained on complicated tender procedures, long deadlines for submission of complaints and long processes of resolving based on complaints in each stage of procurement procedure.

Nonetheless, we face an additional challenge. There is no money for the medicine we purchased. The Budget envisaged one euro in order to settle multimillion debt to pharmaceutical wholesalers, who reasonably threaten to cancel the delivery of all those medicines.

Hence, we find ourselves in a situation where state hardly manages to purchase medicines, and once it acquires them, it does not provide sufficient means for their payment. Whose responsibility is that? Ministry of Health, which proposed the budget? Ministry of Finance, which controlled the proposal? Parliament Committee or MPs who raised their hands to approve a document which they are not fully familiar with? In either case, we know who will have to pay for this debt. Montefarm will raise a loan with an 3% interest rate in order to pay the debt to pharmaceutical wholesalers, which means another half million goes from pocket of citizens due to the negligence of competent institutions.

As a country with very low allocations for health per citizen, what presents a burning issue is the lack of resources for the purpose of securing adequate health protection, and such expensive omissions are intolerable. What is even more important, we need to terminate the practice of medicine “shortage” due to various reasons – health of Montenegrin citizens is not something which comes in addition to a term of office.

As a coalition of NGOs for social changes, which gathered around the issue of importance for reduction of poverty, we particularly emphasise that the issue of medicine shortage, which is already the reality for some patients, affects the poorer classes of society in particular, who are not able to secure necessary medicines through private purchase.

Therefore, we appeal to systematic resolution of issue of medicine shortage with particular emphasis on certain especially sensitive groups of patients.

Members of Coalition for social changes: Juventas, SOS Hotline Podgorica, Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Centre for Roma initiatives, CeMI, Association of Youth with disabilities Montenegro, Ekvista, Queer Montenegro, „Naše doba“ and CAZAS.