Last week, Direct Relief hosted two visitors from Haiti who are instrumental in re-establishing and redesigning Haiti’s healthcare system: Mrs. Flaurine Joseph, Haiti’s Director of Pharmacy, and Dr. Georges Dubuche, of Management Sciences for Health (MSH).
Mrs. Joseph emphasized during her visit that tracking and identification of pharmaceuticals has long challenged health administrators in Haiti. Since the earthquake, the volume of unidentified and improperly imported drugs has increased exponentially. During a trip to Haiti last month, Direct Relief invited Dr. Debouch and Mrs. Joseph to come to our headquarters to learn about how to implement controls to improve Haiti’s pharmaceutical inventory management.
Responsible for overseeing the receiving, storage, and distribution of all pharmaceuticals coming into Haiti, Mrs. Joseph must ensure that medical materials are safely and appropriately manufactured, transported, and ultimately administered to patients throughout the country.
Mrs. Joseph and Dr. Debouch emphasized Haiti’s lack of sufficient systems and human resources to manage the volume and variety of pharmaceuticals entering the country. “There is little to no way to know if the pharmaceuticals that are available to Haitians are counterfeit, improperly handled, and distributed without a proper medical prescription,” Mrs. Joseph reported. As a result, the Ministry of Health cannot ensure the proper distribution, use, or recall of drugs.
“We have to start again,” said Dr. Dubuche, “to build Haiti back better.”
During the three-day visit, Direct Relief staff members shared with Mrs. Joseph and Dr. Dubuche the organization’s systems for securely processing pharmaceuticals and materials through the entire chain of custody, from the licensed manufacturer with Good Manufacturing Practices, to the proper transportation of medical material and pedigree, and finally on to the recipient healthcare provider. Direct Relief also shared its experience using the SAP information platform, the premier supply-chain management software system used in the pharmaceutical industry.
At the end of the visit, Dr. Dubuche said of the collaboration with Direct Relief, “This is such a hopeful moment for the country—it is a model to be followed.” Indeed, this collaboration with Haiti’s Ministry of Health and other key partners reflects Direct Relief’s commitment to helping Haiti rebuild for the long-term, by sharing its expertise built over 62 years of emergency response.