Health Ministry refutes drug shortage

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By Dilanthi Jayamanne 

The Ministry of Health, making a U-turn, said there was no shortage of medicines and surgical equipment, creating confusion among the Sri Lankans overseas who were ready to donate medical equipment and medicinal drugs. 

Earlier, the Ministry appointed Dr. Anver Hamdani as official coordinator to maintain uninterrupted healthcare services and facilitate medicinal and equipment donations to Sri Lanka.

However, on Tuesday (12) The Government Information Department, quoting the Health Ministry, said there were reports on social media of a shortage of medicinal drugs and surgical equipment. The Ministry has reassured the public that there was adequate medicines and surgical equipment in State hospitals. 

The Health Ministry had catalogued the available drugs and surgical equipment in State hospitals of the Western Province and said that the National Hospital alone had 52 Endotrac.tuben/r/w/out cuff 3.5mm available. Also The Department said that there were 121 Endotracheal tube plain 2.5mm without holder available at the Lady Ridgeway Hospital and 53 at Teaching Hospital Kalubowila.   

Despite the reassurances by the Health Ministry, medical and nursing unions as well as the union of professions supplementary to medicine have repeatedly warned, on media and social media, of fast depleting medicinal drugs situation in State and private sector hospitals. 

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) has also urged the Governor of the Central Bank to provide funds from the Itukama Fund which was set up during the pandemic to resurrect the health service of the country. 

Meanwhile, the Doctors’ Trade Union on Medical and Civil Rights (DTUMCR) said that the public should henceforth come forward to file legal action against politicians and health sector officials when patients tend to die for want of medicinal drugs and laboratory equipment in hospitals here.

They have pointed out that if the public were to institute prompt legal action against politicians and health officials then such individuals will not be compelled to take arbitrary and ad-hoc decisions concerning medicinal drugs and laboratory equipment which has a direct nexus with those receiving in-house treatment at hospitals.

A communiqué issued by the DTUMCR states that henceforth they will be urging the public to undertake this task with the support of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL).