EDITORIAL : The cancer of corruption

3 October 2014 09:35 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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At a time when the cancer of bribery and corruption has reached the worst proportions, the JVP on Wednesday made disclosures that were shocking.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’s Voice Against Corruption unit gave documents with figures and details to the Commission appointed to probe allegations of bribery and corruption.

The grave and the deadliest dimension of these charges are that they have taken place in the health service where for millions of people it is a matter of life or death. The unit’s convener and Provincial Council member Wasantha Samarasinghe in the complaint said Japan had donated Rs.770 million to buy C.T. scanners and dialysis equipment, mainly for the North-Central Province where thousands of farmers and their families have been severely affected by a kidney disease of unknown origin. He said only Rs.300 million had been used to buy six C.T. scanners and 50 dialysis machines. Mr. Samarasinghe charged that the balance, a massive Rs. 470 million had apparently gone into the pockets of officials or politicians.

The activist provincial councillor also alleged that a fraud amounting to about Rs.500 million had occurred in the purchase of C.T. scanning and dialysis machines in the Central Province. Mr. Samarasinghe charged that a high ranking official was involved in this racket. Adding to the mystery, this official was a director of the company through which the equipment was bought. Even more mysterious was that the company’s address was of a building belonging to a former provincial health minister.

The JVP’s Voice Against Corruption unit warned that if the Commission did not take action on these charges and bring the culprits to justice immediately, the JVP would urge the people who are against bribery and corruption to surround the offices of
the Commission.

Corruption in any sector is a crime and a plunder of the people’s money. Tragically, the worst corruption seems to be taking place in the most vital area – the health sector. For several decades now, transnational pharmaceutical companies known as the multimillion dollar pharma mafias have been allowed to operate freely in Sri Lanka. As disclosed in an article in the Daily Mirror on Wednesday, the pharma mafia is blocking the National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP) based on Professor Senaka Bibile’s essential medicines concept. Through this concept, quality drugs could be made available to the people at affordable prices. But the pharma mafia is alleged to be involved in heavy bribing of Health Ministry officials and even some medical specialists to prevent the implementation of the NMDP.

Wednesday’s disclosures of health sector corruption amounting to a huge Rs.970 million underlines the urgent need for the Government to act swiftly and effectively in restoring a health service where the well-being of the patients is given top priority. Otherwise it might be a case of the Government allowing ghosts from the graveyard to run or ruin the health sector.

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