Feb 04, Colombo: The Treasury has allocated Rs 1 billion for the purchase of essential drugs including medicines for the treatment of cancer patients.
Accordingly, Rs. 500 million has been allocated for the State Pharmaceutical Corporation and an allocation of Rs. 500 million has been made to the Medical Supplies Division of the Ministry of Health.
The Sunday Times last week has reported that many cancer patients were suffering due to the shortage of drugs. However, Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senaratne has told the cabinet of ministers that the Sunday Times report is inaccurate.
The health authorities, however, have claimed that the shortage of drugs continued, and it would take weeks to resolve the crisis arose as a result of the drug shortage and to resume normal treatment for the patients.
Director General of the Medical Supplies Division, Dr. Lal Panapitiya said the Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne had gone abroad for an official visit and after returning to Sri Lanka, he met with the Treasury officials. Following discussions with the officials, the Treasury has released the funds.
Dr. Panapitiya said that with the funds released by the Treasury medicines sufficient for a month could be purchased.
However, the Treasury should give Rs. 4 billion to the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation for the previous purchases, and Rs. 1 billion to the State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation and another institute, the official said.
Due to the delay in certain sections of the Treasury and its activities, providing funds for state institutions has been delayed by the Treasury and hence the acquisition of essential drugs has also been delayed.
Dr. Panapitiya said that due to the 52-day political crisis last year appointing officials to tender boards was not possible and as a result they could not purchase and supply the essential medicines.
Responding to the Sunday Times report, the Ministry of Health in a statement has said that only 17 out of 75 commonly used drugs were in short supply.
Stocks of six drugs that were in shortage have arrived and the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation has taken immediate action distribute the drugs to the Maharagama Apeksha Cancer Hospital.
In addition, steps have been taken to send drugs to other centers where cancer patients are being treated, the Ministry said. In addition, steps will be taken to import the drugs that are in short supply at present.