Senior Health Ministry Allegedly Allocating expensive.acutely scarce pharmaceutical drugs and other medical supplies received as donations from various parties to specific patients with connections to themselves being treated in certain hospitals,


By Buddhika Samaraweera

Certain senior officials of the Ministry of Health are working to allocate expensive and acutely scarce pharmaceutical drugs and other medical supplies received as donations from various parties, due to the prevailing shortage of such, to specific patients with connections to the former who are being treated in certain hospitals, The Morning learnt.

In view of the current shortage of drugs and other medical supplies, a number of local and foreign parties, including businessmen, have come forward to donate the necessary drugs and medical supplies.
To donate, they first contact the Health Ministry or the Director of the specific hospital and obtain the relevant permission. Most such donors then contact a company of their choice and provide them with the list and quantity of the relevant drugs and medical supplies, and make the relevant payments. After that, the donor informs the company to send the drugs and medical supplies to the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) under the Health Ministry, or to the director of the hospital concerned.

Against this backdrop, sources told The Morning that some senior officials of the Health Ministry are working to send certain expensive and acutely scarce drugs and medical supplies received as donations to selected patients who are related to them and are being treated in certain hospitals. Sources said that such officials would inform the MSD about the hospital to which such drugs and medical supplies should be sent and the patient in the respective hospital to whom they should be given.

The sources also stated that by allocating drugs and medical supplies to selected patients in this way, patients being treated in hospitals in remote areas will likely not be prioritised to receive the same drugs and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, sources told The Morning that in some cases, the containers of drugs and medical supplies received as donations by hospitals through the MSD do not contain the expected amount. Sources said that there were reported instances, for example, of 30-bottle containers holding only 28 bottles.

In addition, it is also reported that some of the drugs and medical supplies received through donations are not or cannot be used in hospitals in the country. These instances often occur when the relevant company sends a different brand of drugs or medical supplies to the MSD or the relevant hospital instead of the brand mentioned in the order given by the donor. Sources claimed that it was difficult to determine whether this was the result of fraud.
Health Ministry Secretary Janaka Sri Chandraguptha and Health Ministry Communications Director Dr. Hemantha Herath were unavailable for comment on the matter.

Given the prevailing shortage of foreign exchange reserves in the country, the value of the Sri Lankan rupee has fallen significantly compared to the US dollar. Due to this fact and difficulties in issuing letters of credit (LCs) for the import of medicines and other medical supplies faced by the concerned parties, a shortage of certain medicines and medical supplies has emerged in the country, while the prices of the same have increased rapidly in the last few months. Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella admitted in Parliament recently that there is a shortage of 91 out of 383 essential drugs and that 14 life-saving drugs are unavailable in the main warehouse of the MSD

Courtesy:The Morning