By CHULARAT SAENGPASSA
The move will put an end to one of the most controversial points in the National Health Security Bill.
During the past several months, several critics have attacked the bill mainly because it failed to give the NHSO the power to buy medical supplies that are best bought in bulk, such as antidotes and vaccines for the universal healthcare scheme. The NHSO is widely credited for efficiently arranging such procurement, saving billions of baht in the state budget every year for more than a decade. However, under the law, the NHSO does not have the power to handle such procurements.
The NHSO has long evaded this law by assigning the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation to make the actual procurement.
Drafters of the bill initially did not give the NHSO procurement powers – upsetting many health advocates who are worried patients’ rights will be harmed.
Dr Varakorn Samakoses, chairman of the bill-drafting committee, convened yesterday’s meeting to discuss the procurement. “We have now agreed to specify clearly that the NHSO and the Public Health Ministry will work together in procurement,” Sureerat Treemanka, a committee members, said.
According to Sureerat, the bill will not be introduced as law in time for the procurement in 2018 fiscal year, which will start on October 1.
“So for the next fiscal year, it is very likely that the NHSO board will have to ask the Cabinet to grant it permission to handle procurement pending the legislation of the new law,” Sureerat said.
She said existing stock of medical supplies handled by the NHSO will likely last only until November.