Proam has difficulty buying aspirin and serum for covid-19 kits

When a person is diagnosed with covid-19 and their condition is mild, the public health services must provide them with outpatient treatment. It is a kit that contains acetaminophen, acetylsalicylic acid -aspirin-, vitamin C and D, loratadine, zinc, ivermectin, and oral rehydration salts, medications that were authorized by the Ministry of Health.

The Medication Accessibility Program (Proam) is in charge of purchasing the products to assemble these kits. With the National Emergency Law for the care of the covid-19 pandemic, approved in Congress on September 13, it was assigned Q45 million for the acquisition of one million kits, at a time when the pandemic shook the country with a spike in infections.

Currently the official figures report a decrease in positive cases, a panorama that could change in the coming weeks due to the risk of a fourth wave of covid-19.

The intention is that the Public Health System is supplied with treatment for cases that are detected in the first level of care, and to prevent their symptoms from escalating to moderate and severe, and requiring hospitalization.

As of November 30, the Guatecompras portal states that Proam awarded Q10.6 million under the protection of the law, in a total of seven tenders. It is 23.5 percent of the budget that was allocated for the purchase of the million kits.

According to Eduardo Vargas, program manager, several events have risen, although the shortage of certain products in the national and international market prevents accelerating the pace of acquisitions. It has become difficult to buy two of the products that the medicine cabinets should have.

“I have the adequate supply of six medications, of aspirin – acetylsalicylic acid – and oral rehydration salts I have an amount, but not enough,” said Vargas.

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Despite the fact that they are medicines that people usually buy in pharmacies, which do not require a prescription, Proam has not been able to acquire the amount of product necessary to assemble the total of first-aid kits that the law requires. Each must have five sachets of oral rehydration salts and 10 tablets of acetylsalicylic acid, these amounts must be multiplied by a million, and the providers have not had the capacity to cover that amount of medication.

This leads to different events being held to purchase the product. “We have raised at least 10, in fact, the first was for the amount of Q45 million. Partial awards were made, it was from that account that the other nine were derived, and there will be more, ”said Vargas.

The emergency law is temporary, and has three months of life, the resources must be executed no later than December 31, time that expires in a month, and Proam still has 76.5 percent of the Q45 million that is They assigned him to purchase the covid-19 kits.

According to Vargas, until last Thursday in the warehouse there were 12 thousand medicine cabinets available to supply the health areas and hospitals, which approach the program to request the amount they need to cover their population, which is established according to according to projections and what the epidemiological traffic light indicates.

The guidelines of the Ministry of Health indicate that, after swabbing, COVID-19 positive cases that are considered mild should receive a drug kit to continue treatment at home. (Free Press Photo: Hemeroteca PL)

In the countryside

In the public health services, the cases detected with mild symptoms of covid-19 receive a kit of medicines to alleviate the disease at home, that is the guideline of the Ministry of Health.

However, Lesli Ramírez, from the Network of Community Defenders for the Right to Health (REDC-Salud), mentions that the situation in the province, in rural areas, is not very encouraging, since the existence of these kits is limited , as well as the amount of tests – swabs – to identify infected people.

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“The defenders tell us that there is no availability of kits, remember that these give them with a positive test, and the supply of tests in the services is quite low. They are not doing tests, ”says Ramírez. Another drawback he points out is that the medicine cabinets do not contain the eight established medications.

In Comitancillo, San Marcos, there have been no cov-19 kits at the health post for weeks. The suspected cases of coronavirus are sent to the Permanent Attention Center (CAP) in San Pedro Pojopilas, Quiché, where they do not have tests to detect cases, nor do they have treatment if they test positive. Healthcare personnel have no choice but to give the medication they believe will alleviate the patient’s symptoms.

According to defenders of the area, two months ago the CAP made the request for the kits to the area headquarters, but they have not been supplied.

Personnel from the Totonicapán Health Area Directorate reported last week that they had eight thousand kits to distribute in the department, and they would be receiving six thousand more. The shortage is of swabs, “without tests we cannot detect positive patients,” said one of the workers.

Vagas indicates that, since the beginning of the pandemic and until last week, Proam has delivered 259 thousand kits to the 29 health areas and hospitals. When asked why are there services that do not have the input? He indicated that the allocation of Q45 million that was made to the program for the purchase of medicines for the million kits is recent -the emergency law was approved on September 13-, that they work on a scheduled basis and that health areas should approach to them to receive these inputs.

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