Emergency procurement of drugs to stop soon

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Health Minister Dr. Keheliya Rambukwella noted that steps will be taken to stop emergency procurement of drugs soon. The Health Minister said this while participating in a special press conference held in Colombo recently to explain the controversial situation in the health sector and its measures taken to do away with drug shortage.

Minister Dr. Rambukwella said that aiming to supply essential medicines, an amount of US$ 200 million was allocated to import essential medicines from the US$ 1,000 million credit facility received from the Indian Government.

The Minister also emphasized that he and everyone in the Ministry had to face the huge challenge of saving the health sector from so called modern ‘Senaka Bibiles’, who claim to be exploiting public money by importing inferior medicines from India.

The Minister said that 294 essential medicines have already been purchased under emergency purchases in accordance with all procurement procedures, with high quality and transparency.

After the special discussion held with President Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Minister said that an additional amount of Rs.3,000 million was received for the purchase of medicines and accordingly, 95 percent of the financial facilities needed to buy medicines were completed.

Answering the question raised by journalists whether there is a crisis in the health sector, the Minister explained that there were challenges not only in the health sector but in every sector of the country and that the Government came forward to alleviate them. He said that he is in a position to move forward by controlling and managing the crises in the health sector.

The Minister said that the situation in the country is not the same as it was in 2018 and 2019.

“If we want to make a true assessment of the situation we are in today, we need to make a deep examination of the socio-economic situation that existed when we handed over the Government in 2015 and the situation that arose after that.

“At that time, the amount of rupees paid for the US dollar in 2015 was Rs. 138.2. Per capita income was US$ 400. Inflation was below 10 percent. Interest rates hit single digits. 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 were very difficult times for us. Various reasons influenced it. Our country was declared a bankrupt state. Currently, the President, as the Minister of Finance, has worked to provide more money for the expenses of the health sector in the midst of various problems,” the Health Minister said.

Emergency medicine procurement is also a procurement process. The only difference less time is consumed for emergency procurement. He stressed that the process is the same for both emergency or normal procurement.

“There is nothing we can do with the emergency medicine procumbent but speed up this process,” he added.

“Even when making these purchases, we have to do it through the recommendations of the World Health Organization, the appointed committee of our Cabinet, the officers of the Audit Department, the officials of our Ministry and the services of the activists of the committees. No one can act illegally in these matters. Anyone can accuse us. But they are not fair accusations,” the Minister said.

Secretary of the Health Minister, S. Janaka Sri Chandragupta, Director General of Health Services Dr. Asela Gunawardena, Additional Secretary Saman Ratnayake, Additional Secretary (Development) Sunil Galagama, Presidential Advisor on Trade Unions Saman Ratnapriya and high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Health’s institutions and departmental corporations were present.


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