ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is still facing a shortage of more than 150 essential medicines due to forex shortages while the Ministry of Health expects to increase local medicine production by 30 percent in the coming two years, officials said.
A source from the Ministry of Health said the country is facing a shortage of around 150 essential medicines in the health sector.
“Out of the 300 registered essential medicines in the country, the health sector is currently facing a shortage of 150 essential medicines,” a source said requesting anonymity on Tuesday October 25.
“However the state is making moves to secure more medicines, and we have also placed orders under the Indian credit line,” the source said.
From the one billion US dollar credit line from India, 200 million USD is to purchase medical supplies, with the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) given the responsibility of placing the order.
Sri Lanka has seen medicine shortages since late June with the Central Medicine Storage running out of stocks.
The authorities said that, until stocks are restored, the ministry has implemented a central communication strategy to facilitate the exchange of medicines between medical institutes based on availability.
The health ministry has informed state hospitals to prioritise emergency cases, minimising routine surgeries in order to preserve the available stocks.
“In hospitals around the country, especially in Colombo, a significant medicine shortage can be seen. This shortage is increasing day by day,” Dr Haritha Aluthge, a member of Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said.
“District hospitals in particular have said that there is a shortage of essential medicines as paracetamol, saline as well as emergency medicines for heart attacks are running out.”
Aluthge said the public is unable to buy prescribed medicines as a result of the country’s economic situation and growing prices.
Asked about the private sector situation regarding the availability of medicine in the market, Sanjiva Wijesekara, the president of the Sri Lanka Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industries said most drugs are available and, even if specific brands are not in the market, pharmaceutical companies have introduced substitutes for consumers to purchase.
Meanwhile, the health ministry said in a statement that constructions of a pharmaceutical production zone with private and state investment in Uyamaduwa will commence in February 2023.
The ministry said 11 out of the 20 ground slots have already been given to private sector investors.
“At present, about 20 percent of the medicines needed by the country are manufactured in the country and it should be brought to the target level of 50 percent in the next two to three years,” the statement said quoting Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.
The drugs produced here are expected to be made available to the health system by 2024 or early 2025.
Quoting the minister, the statement said that some of the medicines produced locally are also planned to be imported and several such projects are expected to be implemented in the country in the future. (Colombo/Oct25/2022)