Daily Mirror - Print Edition

SL’s free health sector slammed over critical drug shortage

26 May 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

  • Over 120 drugs out of stock including cancer drugs 
  • Even pampers and sanitary pads are in shortage
  • Patients unable to take proper dosages   
  • shortage in drugs and consumables for surgeries   
  • It is the poor who are bearing the brunt of the shortage  

By Sheain Fernandopulle   

While sounding the alarm bell that the shortage of drugs in the country has reached a critical stage, Sri Lanka’s leading medical associations accused the Government for turning a blind eye to the matter.    

Speaking with the Daily Mirror, Dr Vinya Ariyaratne, the President of the Sri Lanka Medical Association. (SLMA) said “There is an acute shortage of certain drugs at Government hospitals,”   

“Particularly in clinics, doctors are writing prescriptions for patients to buy medicines from outside. In addition, some patients do not take the proper dosage due to the exorbitant prices of drugs available at private pharmacies. This is a major issue, which needs to be addressed soon ,” he stressed.   

“The shortage has been prevalent for the last one and half years; however, the government seems to have taken the seriousness of the matter for granted,’ Dr Ariyaratne charged.   
He proceeded to say that the process where the donors provide drugs for the Government, has also been hampered owing to several constraints.   

Meanwhile, Media Spokesman for the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe told Daily Mirror there is a shortage of over 120 drugs which includes painkillers, drugs for diabetic, cancer and heart patients.   

“The dearth of drugs can be seen both in private and government hospitals. In addition, there is also a shortage of surgical and lab items as well,” he said.   

Dr Wijesinghe also added that there is no shortage of 14 life-saving drugs. Nevertheless, the prevailing shortage of spate of drugs needs to be addressed as it could lead to a collapse in the health sector.   

Moreover, he said several reasons including the lack of funds, complexity and ambiguity in the procurement system and the monopoly of the suppliers can be identified as the causes for the present drug shortage.   

A total of 1,347 types of medicines are being used in government hospitals, and hospitals have faced medical shortages since 2022 due to the country’s economic crisis. 

No drug shortage in private pharmacies

  • Prices of drugs should be slashed by 30%  
  • patients come with prescriptions given by Govt. hospitals to private pharmacies

By Sheain Fernandopulle  

Despite the dearth of drugs prevailing in Government  hospitals, the All Island Private Pharmacy Owner’s Association and the  Pharmaceutical Society of Sri Lanka said that the private pharmacies  have not been affected by the shortage of drugs as there are adequate  stocks at present.    

Speaking with Daily Mirror, All-Island Private Pharmacy  Owners’ Association (ACPPOA) President Chandika Gankanda said, although they are well aware that government hospitals are facing an acute drug  shortage, there is no shortage of drugs in private pharmacies.   

 “We have noticed that patients are coming with  prescriptions given by Government hospitals seeking drugs from private  pharmacies,” he said.  

Moreover, Gankanda said the prices of drugs can be  decreased by 30 per cent despite Health Minister’s remarks that prices of  drugs would be slashed by 10-15 %.  

Meanwhile, Pharmaceutical Society of Sri Lanka President  Kalum Jayasuriya told Daily Mirror that “The private pharmacies are  getting a high demand for drugs and consumables needed for surgeries,  pampers, sanitary pads and several other drugs including antibiotics  because of the shortage in government hospitals.