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Sunday June 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka faces essential drug shortage; Experts warn of health crisis

ECONOMYNEXT- Sri Lanka’s state-run hospitals are running out of essential medicine and medical equipment while the shortage threatens a major health crisis due to possible medicine supply chain collapse, a health sector trade union said.

Sri Lanka imports 80 percent of its medicines, but severe shortage of dollars due to the ongoing economic crisis has led to shortage of essential drugs and importers are struggling to meet the demand in the country.

Ministry of Health is also facing difficulties in importing the necessary medicine creating a drug shortage in state-run hospitals and pharmacies, affecting forcing hospitals to limit the medications for only for immediate and essential cases.

Indika Rathanayaka , the North Western Convener of the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), a doctors’ trade union, told reporters on Wednesday (06) that the current stocks in most hospitals will last only two weeks.

“We saw this problem a month ago. Within another month time, if this does not get solved, we are going for health crisis in the country as well,” Rathanayaka said.

Due to the shortage of gas and fuel, the government has allocated the remaining dollars to obtain fuel, resulting in commercial banks to decline the requests of medicine importers to open Letters of Credit to import drugs.

India has granted a 1 billion US dollar credit line including 200 million US dollars for essential medicine from the Indian suppliers, Sri Lankan government officials have said.

Tenders have been called from the Indian suppliers by the State Pharmaceutical Corporation to obtain a list of essential medical supplies given by the Medical Supply Division of the
Ministry of Health, officials say.

According to the State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production, Supply and Regulation, Channa Jayasumana, Sri Lanka is currently in need of 1,500 medicines and 3,000 surgical/medical equipment
for the state-run hospitals.

Due to the lack of medicine supplies several hospitals are forced to postpone or limit number of surgeries.

The Indian credit line only allows the government to purchase medicine and leaves private medicine suppliers to struggle to imports essential drugs.

An industry representative told EconomyNext that private sector drug supply to the market has fallen more than 30 percent due to the dollar shortage.

“The situation is much worse now than when we explained it earlier this month,” the source told EconomyNext.

“The banks do not entertain any LC applications and ask for credit for up to 180 days for both LCs and documents against acceptance documents.”

“In the absence of any forward booking mechanism, who knows what the rupee will be against the USD in 180 days? How do you cost your shipments?”

Over 50 percent depreciation of the rupee also has weighed on the drug imports now as the drug prices have risen nearly 30 percent since the central bank allowed depreciation.

A health official said the Treasury released 65 billion rupees to buy medicine and medical equipment, but the government needs further 15 million rupees to manage the price escalation after rupee fall.

“The ministry has sent request to the World Health Organization and other international health organizations to support in obtaining essential drugs for the country,” Saman Rathnayaka, the Secretary to the State Minister of Pharmaceutical Production told privately owned Derena, (Colombo/April 6/2022)

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  1. Mohomed Azeez says:

    Mohomed Azeez,
    8900, Penquin Road,
    Richmond, VA 23229.
    fariqueazeez@gmail.com
    8046645203

    Mr. Albert Bourla,
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
    235 East 42nd Street,
    New York 10017

    Dear Sir,

    I am writing this to you to bring to your attention about the current crisis that is going on in Sri Lanka. As a Sri Lankan American I am deeply concerned about the suffering and hardship Sri Lankans are going through now due to financial mismanagement of the country’s wealth by the ruling politicians.

    Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has deteriorated into a medical crisis, with the top medical union declaring a national health emergency over a life-threatening shortage of drugs. Due to the lack of medicine supplies several hospitals are forced to postpone or limit number of surgeries. Currently the government has sent request to the World Health Organization and other international health organizations to support in obtaining essential drugs for the country.

    Given the situation, I very respectfully request you to provide a medical aid package to Sri Lanka to help the suffering people get over the current situation. If need be, I am ready to coordinate this effort with the health authorities in Sri Lanka.

    This request is coming from the bottom of my heart without expectations of any personal gain, but with the welfare of the Sri Lankan population at heart. I hope this receives your positive attention and expect a response from you soon.

    Thank you,
    Mohomed Azeez
    04/08/2022

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mohomed Azeez says:

    Mohomed Azeez,
    8900, Penquin Road,
    Richmond, VA 23229.
    fariqueazeez@gmail.com
    8046645203

    Mr. Albert Bourla,
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
    235 East 42nd Street,
    New York 10017

    Dear Sir,

    I am writing this to you to bring to your attention about the current crisis that is going on in Sri Lanka. As a Sri Lankan American I am deeply concerned about the suffering and hardship Sri Lankans are going through now due to financial mismanagement of the country’s wealth by the ruling politicians.

    Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has deteriorated into a medical crisis, with the top medical union declaring a national health emergency over a life-threatening shortage of drugs. Due to the lack of medicine supplies several hospitals are forced to postpone or limit number of surgeries. Currently the government has sent request to the World Health Organization and other international health organizations to support in obtaining essential drugs for the country.

    Given the situation, I very respectfully request you to provide a medical aid package to Sri Lanka to help the suffering people get over the current situation. If need be, I am ready to coordinate this effort with the health authorities in Sri Lanka.

    This request is coming from the bottom of my heart without expectations of any personal gain, but with the welfare of the Sri Lankan population at heart. I hope this receives your positive attention and expect a response from you soon.

    Thank you,
    Mohomed Azeez
    04/08/2022

India supports Sri Lanka Coast Guard to boost maritime security

ECONOMYNEXT – India has given 1.2 million US dollars’ worth spare parts to Sri Lanka’s Coast Guard to be used in a vessel also gifted to the Indian Ocean Island on an earlier occasion, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said.

“Handing over of the large consignment of spares symbolizes India’s commitment to support capability building towards addressing the shared challenges of Maritime Security in the region,” the Indian High Commission said

The spare parts were brought to Sri Lanka on the Indian Coast Guard Ship Sachet, an offshore patrol vessel that was on a two-day visit to the island.

The spares were formally handed over to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard Ship Suraksha which was gifted to Sri Lanka in October 2017 by India.

India has gifted spare parts for the ship in June 2021 and April 2022 and also provided assistance in refilling of Halon cylinders in January 2024. (Colombo/June23/2024)

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Sri Lanka Water Board makes profits, tax-payers inject Rs28bn

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state-run National Water Supply and Drainage Board has made a profit of 5.2 billion rupees in the year to December 2023, after a tariff increase despite not getting money for 25 percent of its water it pumps out.

Total revenues went up to 61.8 billion rupees in 2023 from 35.4 billion rupees, a Finance Ministry report said.

Water revenue surged to 58.5 billion rupees from 33.1 billion rupees, cost of sales also went up to 32.8 billion rupees from 23.14 billion rupees, helping boost gross profits from 12.3 billion rupees to 29.0 billion rupees.

Finance costs surged to 14.9 billion rupees from 3.9 billion rupees,

NSWD reported net profits of 5.2 billion rupees for the year, against a loss of 2.7 billion rupees a year earlier.

The Treasury had given 28 billion rupees from tax payer money to settle loans.

During the Rajapaksa administration, macroeconomists who ran the Finance Ministry made state enterprises borrow money from banks through Treasury guarantees listing them as ‘contingent liabilities’, claiming they were ‘off balance sheet’.

The Road Development Authority, which had no revenues to speak of borrowed large amounts of money from banks which were listed as ‘contingent liabilities’ though they were a responsibility of the state from day one, allowing macroeconomists to understate both the budget deficit and national debt, critics say.

The water tariffs were raised by 81 percent after macroeconomists printed money to supress interest rates for flexible inflation targeting/potential output targeting. The currency collapsed after macroeconomists tried to float the rupee with a surrender rule in place.

Non-revenue water for which no money is collected was 25.2 percent. The agency was supposed to reduce non-revenue water. In some districts religious establishments are responsible for non-revenue water, according to an official who said it on condition of anonymity.

The water board is also unable to collect money from some services like common toilets for underserved communities. (Colombo/June23/2024 – Update II)

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Sri Lanka will expedite Indian projects: President

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will expedite Indian-backed projects in the island, President Ranil Wickremesinghe told Indian business people after a visit by Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar this week.

“I discussed with Prime Minister Modi the need to accelerate the joint program that we have decided, agreed on. So the major ones are identified, and Foreign Minister Jaishankar came down today [20] to have a discussion. Now this will show the new path we are taking,” president Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

“It won’t be individual projects. We’ve discussed a fair number of them. First is the grid interconnection between Sri Lanka and India, so that sustainable energy can be transmitted to India.

“We have the Sampur solar power project, which is a Government to Government (G2G) project, and a three island project, which is where we hope the ground breaking can take place in July,” he told Indian business people at the 31st All India Partner’s Meet 2024 (AIPM 2024), held at ICT Ratnadipa in Colombo.

The AIPM 2024 which was organised by KPGM Sri Lanka and India provided a platform for both countries to reaffirm their commitment to collaborative projects that promise to redefine bilateral relations and propel socio-economic growth.

“It’s a great pleasure and a privilege to have you in Sri Lanka, in Colombo, holding this meeting. It shows on one hand the close friendship that our two countries have, and on the other hand, the confidence that you have in Sri Lanka.

“Having now survived two difficult years, I must acknowledge that this was possible because India gave us a loan of $3.5 billion. All that will be repaid.”

Cooperation between the two nations needed to be enhanced, particularly in the energy sector, aiming to foster new development for the Northern region, Wickremesinghe said.

“We are looking at developing Palk Straight for wind energy and solar energy, both countries to get together and have a large farm for solar energy, for renewable energy. It also means that we will have a new economy for the northern province, which was worst affected by the war.”

Several Indian-backed projects in Sri Lanka have stalled due to protests from some parties, with some going to courts.

India is helping expand the Kankesanturai port, and is discussing development of the Palali and Colombo airports.

The National Livestock Development Board of Sri Lanka, in collaboration with India’s Amul Dairy Company, is involved in a project to enhance liquid milk production in the country.

The two nations are also considering establishing land connectivity.

Discussions have also taken place regarding expediting the Trincomalee Development Project, which encompasses industrial investment zones and tourist areas.

“Plans are underway to construct a multi-product oil pipeline from Nagapatnam to Trincomalee, pending the final observation report. Trincomalee is poised to become a hub for oil refining, with the development of ports and investment zones, transforming Trincomalee Port into a significant hub on the Bay of Bengal.

“Today, the entire East Coast is being opened up for tourism, with additional land earmarked for hotels in Galle and southern areas. Moreover, there are plans to establish more investment zones across the country, alongside expanding our professional training programs. In these endeavours, we are collaborating closely with India.” (Colombo/Jun22/2024)

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