SL Health Ministry’s Rs 1 billion data system opens can of worms
Government pharmacists are vehemently protesting against an attempt buy Rs 1 billion worth data system for Health Ministry’s medicine purchase supply and distribution for Hospitals Island wide.
They were seeking a probe on certain Ministry officials and trade unions behind alleged move misleading Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE).
The State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) made headlines recently at the Committee On Public Enterprises (COPE) hearing in the Sri Lankan Parliament.
Specifically, when asked about their operations, they claimed that they needed seven billion rupees for software to run their whole enterprise.
This links into some recent drama. The Medical Supplies Division (MSD), which works hand-in-hand with SPC, has existing software although Rs. 644 million spent over seven years (2008 – 2015), and not functional. Auditor General’s report revealed.
SPC clearly has massive inventory management problems: between 2011 and 2020, Rs. 6259 million worth of drugs faced a quality failure due to improper storage of drugs — by the SPC, it added.
Even under these allegations the Health Ministry is to purchase a new data system for the supply and distribution of medicines at a cost of Rs. 1 billion instead of providing solutions to the shortage of pharmaceutical drugs and medical supplies in the country.
The Society of Government Pharmacists (SGP) requested the Minister of Health, the Secretary to the Health Ministry, and the Auditor General to conduct an investigation into the latest allegation. .
A leading member of the society said that certain officials of the Health Ministry and TUs are attempting to propagate that the purchase of drugs and medical supplies has been slowed down due to the data system that is currently in place to manage the purchase and distribution of drugs.
He said that many activities, such as ordering drugs from the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) by hospitals and medical institutions, the distribution of drugs from the MSD to hospitals and then from hospitals to their inpatient and outpatient departments, are being handled by the present system
It also included exchanging drugs and other medical supplies between hospitals, and estimating the required drugs and medical supplies and submitting the relevant information to the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) in addition to handling of about 2,500 Government pharmacists country wide.
“Some officials from the Health Ministry informed the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) that this data system does not function properly. They provided misleading information to the COPE.
He added that Health Ministry officials are attempting to purchase another data system without transparent discussions conducted with the relevant parties, including the SGP.
He claimed that if the Health Ministry is to stop using the existing data system, the country will have to face a serious crisis with regard to drugs and medical supplies in 2023. “.
Meanwhile, the College of Medical Laboratory Science claimed at the time that in the context of the global health sector being digitiZed, the Health Ministry had failed to recruit any officers with expertise in information technology (IT) and that the same has resulted in the failure of many IT-related projects carried out by the Health Ministry at huge costs.
He said that a large sum of money is being wasted due to the appointment of Medical Officers (MOs) as IT officers instead of IT experts, which, he claimed, not only prevents the MOs from carrying out their primary duty of treating patients, but also causes huge financial losses when the IT projects eventually fail.