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Sunday February 25th, 2024

Sri Lanka facing shortage of 150 essential drugs; govt looking to boost local production

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)

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  1. MAP Hemachandra says:

    These drugs are manufactured at SPMC. Who’s responsible for this? The SPMC Chairman?

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  1. MAP Hemachandra says:

    These drugs are manufactured at SPMC. Who’s responsible for this? The SPMC Chairman?

Sri Lanka could get US$500mn from ADB in 2024

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka could receive 500 million US dollars in support from the Asian Development Bank in 2024 based on the progress of policy reforms, Country Director of the Manila-based lender, Takafumi Kadono said.

The ADB expect to go to its Board around March or April with a 100 million US dollar power sector loan subject to the cabinet of ministers of approving a revised electricity reform bill.

A 100 million dollar loan to support SMEs could also be approved in the early part of the year. Sri Lanka is setting up a credit guarantee agency to support credit for small firms.

A 200 million dollar credit for financial sector was also slated for the year. The ADB gave the first tranche of the financial sector policy loan late last year.

A $100mn for the water sector could also be approved later in the year.

Sri Lanka could get around 200 to 300 million US dollars a year at the lowest rate, or concessional ordinary capital resources (COL) rate of 2 percent.

The balance of would come at the ordinary capital resource rate linked to SOFR.

The ADB has also started work on a ‘Country Partnership Strategy’ for Sri Lanka covering the 2024-2028 period, Kadodo said. (Colombo/Feb25/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy based on friendship: Min

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none, its Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.

“Non-alignment means not becoming a bystander. Non-alignment means you are not forced or coerced into a camp to take sovereign decisions… you make your own choices. Whether it is commercial, security, regional or otherwise,” M U M Ali Sabry said on X (twitter).

“I have repeatedly stressed that sovereignty is the right to have your own opinion on what’s right and wrong, and to stand by your principles. Our multi-aligned foreign policy is based on friendship to all and enmity to none,” Sabry was quoting from his speech at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) Foreign Policy Forum, on the theme ‘Reassessing Non-Alignment in a Polarised World’.

Sri Lanka is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The strategically located island has been increasingly walking a fine line between opposing global factions as it seeks to come out of a financial crisis. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank Dec net down on tax provisions

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Commercial Bank of Ceylon reported profits of 6.9 billion rupees from the December 2023 quarter down 21 percent, despite an improvement in net interest income and lower provisions, amid a change in tax provisions.

Pre-tax profits were 8.89 billion rupees up from 2.4 billion rupees. There was a 6.4 billion tax reversal last year compared to a 1.7 billion rupee tax charge this year.

Commercial Bank reported earnings of 5.26 rupees for the quarter. For the year to December 2023 earnings were 16.07 rupees per share on total profits of 21.1 billion rupees, down 11.3 percent.

Net fee and commission income was down 1.2 percent to 6.1 billion rupees.

Net interest income went up 16.8 percent to 25.5 billion rupees, with interest income rising marginally by 1.3 percent to 73.0 billion rupees and interest expense falling 5.45 percent to 47.5 billion rupees.

Loans and advances to customers grew 4.06 percent to 1.17 billion rupees in the year to December. Debt and other financial instruments fell 10.5 percent to 649 billion rupees.

Financial assets measured and fair value through other comprehensive income was at 287 billion rupees, up from 117 billion rupees.

Impairment charges were 13.1 billion rupees, down from 19.6 billion rupees last year.

Gross assets were up 6.45 percent to 2.36 billion rupees. Net assets were up 5.51 percent to 214 billion rupees. (Colombo/Feb24/2024)

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