ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka will stop the emergency procurement of drugs with immediate effect, its Minister of Health said on Monday (2).
“During the Covid pandemic, the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) and the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) fell into great difficulty. We didn’t have flights to airlift medicines. So, we couldn’t bring medicines and we had to make do with what we had,” Minister of Health, Keheliya Rambukwella, told reporters at a press conference.
The minister said that due to the conditions in the country at the time, they had to resort to emergency procurements of drugs.
“Due to what we were facing at the time, we had to go for emergency procurements. We also had an economic crisis,”
At the time, banks were refusing to lend money to Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka had to purchase medicines through the Indian credit line worth 1 billion dollars.
“We are short of 170-200 drugs. We are managing this. This can drop to 70-100,” Rambukwella said. He added that the government was working with the Bangladeshi government to procure medicines in the next three months.
While the shortage of essential medicines stemmed from the economic crisis, it persists due to the lack of a robust and transparent procurement system, trade bodies have said.
The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) must play a much stronger, transparent, and independent role in ensuring that high-quality medicines are procured, including essential medicines that are procured through an emergency process, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said earlier. (Colombo/Oct2/2023)