Acute shortage of surgical items at MSD

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About 190 and 51 vital and essential surgical items are out of stock at the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) and hospitals respectively, a report prepared by the Auditor General on the existing drug shortage revealed.

The Special Committee which had been appointed by the GMOA to look into existing drug shortages in state health institutions will submit their report in the coming week.

GMOA Media Committee Member, Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe on Friday (19), responding to queries, said as had been revealed in the Auditor General’s report on procedures taken to avoid the shortage of pharmaceuticals in Government Hospitals, there were 1,146 pharmaceutical items used in hospitals as vital, essential, and non-essential. The number of surgical items were 8,648, the number of laboratory items were 3,900, and the X-ray items were 44. 

“Of these, the number of out of stock vital and essential surgical items in the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) and hospitals were 190 and 51 respectively,” he said, quoting the Report. The number of out of stock laboratory items and X-ray items in the MSD and hospitals were 850 and 18 respectively.

Dr. Wijesinghe said although the forex issue in the country was a hindering factor in pharmaceutical imports, there were more serious issues like the lack of coordination amongst the stakeholders involved in procurement procedures, the delays in maintenance and updating of online systems, and the lack of sensitivity within the Health Ministry towards the prevailing issue of drug shortages. There were drug shortages reported from Anuradhapura, Badulla, and several other areas. But the problem prevails from the National Hospitals down to even the central dispensaries of the country.  He said the Committee had been tasked with going to the grassroots level to gather data in a bid to find short-term, mid-term, and long-term solutions to the issue. “We hope to present the report at the General Committee Meeting to be held on 24 August 2022, before which the report would be submitted. It would also be made public. The GMOA would request a meeting with Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella during which it hopes to discuss the report and find solutions.”

Fielding questions, he said measures should be taken to increase efficiency in the quality assurance system to invite more investors to manufacture pharmaceuticals locally. At present, there were hiccups in the system adapted to encourage investors to locally manufacture medicinal drugs, the Media Committee Member said.   

By Dilanthi Jayamanne