government emergency plan for drug shortages

Some hospitals only have a few days’ supplies. Imports are delayed due to the economic crisis and lack of fuel, which affects distribution to rural health facilities. The government will collect excess stock and redistribute it as needed.

Colombo () – The national health authorities are trying to draw up emergency plans to deal with the shortage of medicines caused by the current economic crisis. Some hospitals only have a few days’ supply of vital drugs.

The Ministry of Health “has decided to create a mechanism by which medicines from the reserves of primary health units and regional hospitals will be taken to a central unit and distributed based on an assessment of needs,” sources explained. . According to local officials, the current shortage “is due to the interruption of supply chains and distribution networks”, such as “delays in opening letters of credit” after the exchange crisis that has affected the national economy for months. .

“The Health agency was unable to place regular import orders as it did before the crisis,” the sources continued. In addition, the lack of fuel hampers the distribution network, mainly affecting hospitals in rural areas.

The Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) stated that “there is a serious shortage of medicines and supplies, such as antibiotic syrup for children and the equipment necessary for the treatment of eyes and cancer patients”. There is also a lack of anesthetic drugs that are essential for surgeries, forcing doctors to postpone them. Last week, the GMOA met with President Ranil Wickremasinghe to offer him his views on the crisis.

According to the GMOA evaluation, there are five actors that deal with the management and distribution of medicines and medical equipment in the country: the Ministry of Health, the Division of Medical Supplies and Online Hospital System, the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) which manages the importation of medicines, the State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) and the National Medicines Regulatory Agency (NMRA). There is a “lack of coordination between these interested parties”, affirmed the GMOA, and consequently, “problems and delays in the acquisition of medicines are verified”.

A health official explained that “some proposals have been presented and the government has been asked to do an audit and maintain an online system to organize the allocation of medicines. If there were a mechanism to control the quantity of medicines that are in the whole country and where they are, we could better deal with the problem.

In the hospitals of Kandy, Balangoda and Badulla there has not yet been a shortage of medicines, so the Government has asked them to hand over a part of their reserves. “We have enough stock for three months. We are delivering most of the excess drugs, especially antibiotics and paracetamol, and keeping enough to cover our needs for a month,” some officials told .

In the case of the Puttalam-Marawila hospital, the center delivered medicines to the central government despite a shortage of oral antibiotics for children and doctors at the Colombo National Hospital have started to limit the use of paracetamol and surgical equipment such as gloves. , gowns, masks, syringes and gauze.

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Written by Editor TLN

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