SJB MP Eran Wickramaratne said that the health sector has become a death trap for patients. Importation of inferior medicine in the guise of emergency purchasing and non-functioning medical, surgical and other test equipment in hospitals (the government has no money to invest in the health sector) has pushed the health services in to abyss.
Addressing the Media at the Office of the Leader of Opposition on Sunday (6Aug2023), he further said that this pathetic situation in the health sector has been further aggravated by the brain drain. Though a doctor’s initial combined salary exceeds Rs.160, 000, the market opportunities available to them are much higher. Doctors/nurses can earn three times the salary they receive in Sri Lanka, when they chose to go overseas.
If the current issues that prevail in the entire health sector are to be resolved, the allocation should be increased from the current 1.5% of the GDP to 3% of the GDP in the health and education sectors. An SJB government will invest more on soft infrastructure such as health and education, instead of hard infrastructure that has not generated dividends to the country thus far. Eran also said that an SJB government will rationalise state expenditure through thorough austerity measures and will invest in health and education infrastructure.
On 12th April 2022, the government had issued a statement declaring that there is no shortage of medicine or surgical equipment in the state hospitals. On the same day, on ‘Watch Dog’, more than fifty doctors from all over the country spoke and publicly said that the government’s statement is completely false and is misguiding the people. Even the Director General of Health Services had admitted that there is a shortage of medicines. Only 10% of the local medicine requirement is produced in the country. The rest is imported from several countries including India, Germany and Switzerland.
Importation of substandard medicine from India through unregistered suppliers in the guise of emergency purchasing is a critical part of the crisis. The fact that these drug purchases have been made from a company that is not registered with the National Medicinal Authority raises serious doubts. Transparency International has filed a case against awarding the contract to an Indian company out of procedure and importing substandard medicine in to the country. The Supreme Court has given the greenlight to proceed to hear this case on the basis that there are doubts about the quality and standard of the medicine in question. An interim order has also been given not to re-import these medicines until the case is investigated. Mr. Eran Wickramaratne casting aspersion on the actions taken by the health authorities, said, the government after having declared that there is no money to allocate, has made emergency purchases of medicine at a higher price of about 1000% more than the normal price.
Adding fuel to the fire, the data system of the NMRA got deleted in an unusual manner. The government then tried to hide behind the deletion of data for the lack of medicine. Colombo University gave a report on the data.