Director Medical Supplies Division (DMSD) of the Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. A.T. Sudarshana says that a campaign of lies being orchestrated around the country to the effect that a severe shortage of drugs is prevailing in government hospitals.
Addressing a press conference held at the Medical Supplies Division in the Ministry of Health on Friday, Dr. Sudarshana produced a detailed account of medicines available in government hospitals and added that his report was prepared based on data provided to him by chief pharmacists. The MSD supplies medicine for 1076 medical institutes including teaching hospitals, district hospitals and base hospitals, but none of the directors had complained of any shortage of medicine, he said.
“One of the lies being spread in some media is that there is a shortage of 50 types of essential drugs in the Ratnapura Teaching Hospital. But the truth is that there was a requirement for seven types which we import only as per the needs of the patients. There are two other similar types of medicine required at the Maharagama Cancer hospital. They too are purchased only if there is a request. The needs are supplied as soon as our division receives a requisition form via fax,” he said adding that according to some media reports shortage of medicine prevailed in Puttalam, Trincomalee, Kegalle, Chilaw and Anamaduwa hospitals. “But none of the directors of those hospitals has informed us or complained to us,” Dr. Sudarshana said.
He said that the MSD imports and distributes around 19,000 types of medicine. “There could be a shortage of around 20 to 30 types in any given occasion owing to practical reasons such as heavy use of those types or less ordering of such types of medicine. But they are supplied as per the need arises and it is wrong to describe such a situation as a severe shortage of medicine in the country.”
“In addition, we have provided funds for hospitals to make emergency purchases if there would be any unforeseen urgency to treat patients,” he said.
Dr. Sudarshana said that Sri Lanka is known for its computerised medicine supply distribution system and been recognised as the best system in the South Asian countries. “Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne introduced a controlled price for 75 types of medicine for the first time. That introduction ended the control of pharmaceutical mafia. So it is obvious who is behind this campaign to attack him. This campaign of non-existent medicine shortage has the blessings of some doctors who had been on the payroll of pharma companies.
“Unlike other commodities, maintaining a controlled price for medicine is not an easy task. However, in view of the issues and problems faced by patients, the Minister was in a firm decision that there should be an end to pharma companies exploiting the innocents. Now there are organised rackets to sabotage the programmes introduced by the Minister. The stories of medicine shortage are a part of that sabotage campaign,” Dr. Sudarshana said.