Health Minister minimises drug shortages


By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Serious drug shortages in state hospitals, which was almost a perennial problem earlier had now been minimised, Health and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne said on Thursday.

Citing examples, the Minister said a shortage of seventy-nine kinds of drugs existed in January 2015 and they had reduced it to forty nine by March. At present it had been further reduced to 29 kinds of drugs.

Minister Senaratne pointed out that the Health Ministry had formulated an effective drug procurement mechanism to replenish required drugs to hospitals in the country on a priority basis under his supervision as drug shortages had been causing a plethora of problems to the patients. He had instructed the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) to supply the required drugs to hospitals regularly on the orders placed.

It was the responsibility of all hospital administrators to place orders through the Provincial Health Directors in their respective districts in due course so that the MSD could supply the drugs on time. The MSD had a timetable to distribute drugs to the relevant hospitals. When a hospital ran short of drugs, it could purchase the drugs locally. But the drug suppliers were unable to supply drugs for three months period at a stretch, he noted.

Dr Senaratne said that the MSD on his instructions had also devised a plan to supply drugs to hospitals before three months’ time to avoid any shortages. The respective hospital administrators were required to place orders before three months. The MSD would be able to supply the requirements on time preventing any shortages.

The Minister said that the MSD had been instructed to maintain buffer stocks of all essential and life-saving drugs which could be supplied to hospitals when necessary. The new mechanism ensured that all the essential and life-savings drugs were available at any time at the MSD. Under the new mechanism no patients would be affected. At the moment only 29 kinds of drugs were out of stock, but action had been taken to supply those drugs to hospitals soon.

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