Pregnant and lactating mothers left high and dry

Corrupt health officials cash in on free food supplement

by Suresh Perera

With widespread reports of Thriposha being openly sold to pregnant and lactating mothers, instead of being distributed free of charge as per government policy, health officials last week called for a systematic mechanism to stem the growing corruption.

Even the media has reported instances where this highly nutritious food supplement is being sold to poor people by unscrupulous elements who have cashed in on the prevailing ad hoc system of channeling the products to the deserving among under-privileged families, they said.

The production of Thriposha has now zoomed to an unprecedented level, earning plaudits from Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who personally visited the Kandana factory sometime ago and commended those behind the operation, the officials noted.

"But, the whole purpose is lost if mothers who deserve and need this food supplement for their nutrition during pregnancy and lactation don’t get it", they said. "We are talking of a desperately poor segment who cannot afford to buy it".

The distribution of the product island-wide is handled by the Health Ministry and an official who determines the quantum for despatch to the respective areas does it in a haphazard manner, they charged. "This has left room for those down the line to make a fast buck at the expense of poor mothers".

There have been complaints from many areas, they asserted. "What is called for is a more organized and transparent system of distribution by health officials".

It is a crime to deny Thriposha to these deserving women as most of them lack the required nutrition during this critical phase of their lives, medical officials said. "Production has hit a new high, thanks to competent people, but distribution by health officials has botched it".

"We need to pull up our socks and tackle this problem head-on", he suggested. "Otherwise, corrupt elements will continue to thrive".

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