Corruption delayed drug policy : Minister

By Pushpakumara Jayaratne

Health Minister Maitripala Sirisena has accused his own officials of corruption whereby essential drugs are not reaching patients though as much as Rs. 21 billion was spent this year on the import of a thousand varieties of drugs.

He told a seminar in Kurunegala that he would implement the much-delayed National Medicinal Drug Policy from next week despite objections from pharmaceuticals companies. Mr. Sririsena said he would also bring about several other changes from next week. “

The shortage of surgical gloves in state hospitals this year was due to the delay in calling for tenders. There are 2,223 pending tenders for the purchase of drugs to the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation. The delaying of tenders will lead to emergency purchases and there are health officials awaiting commissions,” the Minister told the seminar organized by the Registered Medical Practitioners Association of the North-Western Province and the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation.

“Despite billions of rupees allocated for the import of drugs and medical equipment, most of the time, essential drugs are not reaching the patients due to corruption among health officials. Apart from the National Medicinal Drug Policy, we are also hoping to introduce new laws,” he said.

Dr. Priyadharshani Galapaththi, Head of the Department of Pharmacology at Colombo University, spoke on ways of “improving the quality of drugs through the national drug policy.”

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