HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the ministry could not go on paying millions of dollars for drugs under the Chronic Disease Assistance Programme (CDAP).
“I think the public should understand that the money you are paying for CDAP is not going for drugs,” Deyalsingh told reporters yesterday at the National Symposium on Strengthening Primary Health Care at the Hilton, Port of Spain.
“It is $46 million in administrative fees. Of that, $36 million goes to pharmacies to dispense the drugs. This is more than the cost of the drugs. The last administration took it up from $25 million to $36 million in the year before the election.
“I have a position before Cabinet to redirect resources to provide drugs to patients who need them. We cannot go on paying $46 million to dispense $26 million of drugs,” He said they could not go on paying a company $30 million to manage a programme that costs $26 million.
Deyalsingh said the ministry was still paying-off the $30 million contract which the last government signed.
“So where is the money for drugs? Everybody makes money out of CDAP, but nobody gives a hoot about the customer, the patient.
“There are costs to a pharmacy, but is it $36 million worth of costs? And when I am being held responsible for the lack of CDAP drugs, the country needs to understand why you can’t get your CDAP drugs and I am doing something about it.”
The economic burden from diabetes, hypertension and cancer was about $8.7 billion annually. This represented a cost of about five per cent of the current Gross Domestic Product.
Diabetes had the highest total cost of about $3.5 billion, with hypertension at $3.2 billion.
The total cost of cancer was $2 billion.
Deyalsingh said interventions for prevention and early identification of cancers could have substantial benefits to the economy. A 20 per cent reduction in cancer mortality could reduce productivity losses by about $360 million.