The Auditor General revealed that the drop in anti-rabies serum was due to improper planning and not due to the forex crisis, adding that the Medical Supplies Division of the Ministry of Health had not placed the order for the serum for 2021 and 2022.

A report issued by the Auditor General titled ‘Procedures taken to avoid the Shortage of Pharmaceuticals in Government Hospitals by 13 May 2022’ said the stock of anti-rabies serum, which is a vital drug was zero in the Medical Supplies Division and the stock remained in the hospitals for less than a month due to planning problems and not an exchange deficit.

It was noted that seven months after submitting the order for the year 2020, the Medical Supplies Division had cancelled the order and had not placed the order for the years 2021 and 2022. “The order issued on 28 March 2018 for the year 2019 was amended 21 months later on 6 January 2022. The order was delivered to the supplier on 19 January 2022 and the letters of credit were opened on 07 April 2022,” the report said.

The report said the order to purchase Anti Rabies (TC) vaccine for the year 2022 was received by the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation of Sri Lanka on 17 March 2021, but the relevant purchase order was awarded to the supplier on 24 March 2022, 12 months later.

It was observed that although the stock level of this item in the Medical Supplies Division was sufficient for less than a month, the existing stock levels in the hospitals remained manageable.

The report also said the Medical Supplies Division had not taken any steps to monitor the progress of the approximately 13,000 medical supplies orders for the next year for several years.

By Faadhila Thassim