Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Former Health Minister makes shocking revelation on medicine shortage!

One of the main reasons behind the ongoing medicine shortage in the country is the malfunctioning of the software installed by the Ministry of Health of the Good Governance government for medical supplies, disclosed former Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, speaking to Hiru TV, whilst making a shocking revelation of a recent attempt of defrauding Rs. 450 million received by the World Bank for the development of the software.

“There are three types of medicines. One is “lifesaving medicines.” There are 14 lifesaving medicines. Three are missing. You may have heard of the TNT pill, which is placed under the tongue in heart attack conditions. Now, if you get a heart attack today, you won’t be able to save yourself. And then there is the IV Set, which is a direct liquid injection given when there is no time to give pills. The lifesaving medicines are directly injected into the veins. The set is not available now. The third is saline. Now saline is even manufactured in Sri Lanka, isn’t it? I was the one who initiated the Saline Factory. Only a month’s stock is available there. Generally, there should be stocks sufficient for three months,” Senaratne said.

The former Health Minister added: “Two is “essential medicines.” These are not as vital as lifesaving, but are essential. What are they? A diabetes patient has to take their daily pill, which is not a lifesaving situation, but is a daily necessity. For blood pressure there is a daily pill. If you have renal disease, there is daily medication. These are the essential medicines. There are 636 of them, and 185 are missing. These claims are not made by me, these are said by the Medical Supplies Division.”

“Then there is “non-essential medicines,” under which there are 400 medicines and 190 have run out of stock,” the SJB MP went on. “These are data I received the night before the Budget Debate. According to them, 30 per cent of essential medicines is missing. 48 per cent of non-essential medicines is missing. This is not a problem related to dollars. Take a look at what the Additional Director of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Saman Ratnayake, said about the medicine shortage during a press conference. He said that delays in the importation process have contributed to the medicine shortage. This stands for the procurement procedure. The Treasury says that 90 per cent of the required amount of money has already been released to the Ministry.”

Dr. Senaratne further added: “Then, the College of Pharmacists is assigned to submit a report from the World Health Organisation. Because Sri Lanka has the required amount of money, and therefore, they cannot accept the claim that there are no medicines. So, they wish to know how the shortage occurred in the first place. The current procurement procedure existed even during my tenure. It had existed long before. This is not an unfamiliar procurement procedure, is it? So, listen, where is the software brought in for this purpose? The App is missing now. We had installed it at every hospital belonging to the Central Government. Then we had installed it at every base hospital belonging to the Provincial Councils. We had carried out this affair smoothly. This led to zero shortage of medicines. There was no such shortage since about 2017. Maybe for a day. This was because we installed the App. Our officials can observe through the App when will the stocks be running out. We maintained a three-month stock every day. Now the App is missing. It was lost not because of the current Minister. But what did the administration before him do? Now, because this App was so good, the World Bank had donated Rs. 450 million to the Health Ministry for the development of the App. (If the App works perfectly, more funds could’ve been obtained; we did during our time) During our time, I received funds amounting to Rs. 468 billion from the countries of the European Union to develop these hospitals. They do release money, if we work and there is a system to work. When Rs. 450 million was released for the development of that App, what did the previous regime do? They attempted to allocate that money – the whole portion of Rs. 450 million – for the establishment of a company in a matter of one day through one of their cronies. The Rs. 450 million grant was lost on the spot. It received to neither the government, nor that person. The money was withdrawn. Neither do we have the App now!”


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