Govt purchases 80% of drugs from unregistered firms on Indian credit
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) says that the stocks of more than 140 types of essential drugs used for the treatment of patients have been exhausted.
Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe, the Media Spokesman of the GMOA, pointed out that the attention of the Ministry of Health should be directed in this regard.
He also said that in view of this situation, the maintenance of health services of the entire hospital system, starting from the National Hospital to the rural hospitals, has confronted a severe challenge.
Meanwhile, President of the Health Professionals’ Association Mr. Ravi Kumudesh stressed that 80% of the drugs brought to Sri Lanka under the Indian credit assistance system have not been registered.
He alleges that the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) is responsible for the issue.
Sri Lanka is expecting to ease a medicine shortage by next month with more supplies coming in from orders placed through an Indian credit line, as well as funds from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and World Bank, health officials said.
Sri Lanka’s medical supplies were disrupted in 2022 following the worst currency crises in the history of the island’s intermediate regime central bank as the country lost the ability to pay regular suppliers and private importers also could not open letters of credit or pay for earlier imports.
Sri Lanka’s State Pharmaceuticals Corporation is getting more supplies including 14 vital medicines that were short a few months back.
“So far we have purchased 267 medicine items as of February 01,” Dinusha Dassanayake, the General Manager of SPCsaid.
“We have so far received 303 medicine consignments including 112 surgical supply consignments and we have purchased 267 medicine items as of February 01,”
India has stepped in last year with the credit line, but ordering and getting medicines takes time.“Of the 200 million US dollar credit line we received from India, we got approval for 96.7 million US dollars,” Dassanayake said.disclosed.
“And we have placed orders for 862 pharmaceuticals and 1,596 surgical items“We hope to receive it by next April or May.”
The shortage of essential medicine lists has dropped to 155 from 169 as the medicines started coming in to the country, SPC Chairman, Sarath Liyanage said.
He said funds are also being allocated from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the World Bank as well as other financial institutions.
Also, the country has adequate amount of drugs or the next six months, and measures have been taken to secure more stocks, a health official from the Ministry of Health said.
Before crisis Sri Lanka usually had several months of supply of each stock, which were run down as money printing created forex shortages.
Drugs that are short in one month are not the same that are short the next month. But supplies of some drugs have now been built up for six months, a Health Ministry official said.
“Last month we didn’t receive an allocated amount of drugs but now we are in a process of receiving the drugs,” the official said.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Spokesman Minster Bandula Gunawardana said the current drug shortage is partially due to a delay of the medicines regulator.
“When the harbour release medicine consignments, they always have to get the approval of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority,” Gunawardana said.
“The regulations and methods that they practise throughout this period will not be changed due to a medicine shortage.”