Govt. hospitals compelled to ask patients to buy almost all their drugs from private sector – GMOA



Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe (L) / Dr. Hansamal Weerasuriya (R)

Emergency procurement has put everyone at risk

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Patients seeking treatment at the state-run hospitals are asked to buy almost all medicines from the private sector, the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), media spokesman, Dr. Chamil Wijesinghe says.

“Now there are issues with the quality of the drugs used in government hospitals. Health staff members are also in a tight spot. We dispense the drugs the Ministry of Health sends us, and we can’t test the quality of the drugs.”

Dr. Wijesinghe said doctors and nurses were now afraid to administer drugs to patients. “If something happens to a patient, his or her friends and family blame us,” he added.

“Emergency purchases have become the order of the day. The drugs purchased under this scheme are often of low quality. The most recent example is the substandard immunoglobulin distributed to government hospitals. This is a daylight robbery. This is only one example.”

The GMOA Media Spokesman went on to say that CT, MRI and x-ray machines at government hospitals were breaking down for want of maintenance. The MRI machine at Lady Ridgeway Hospital had broken down, and children had to be transferred to the National Hospital. Getting an MRI done in the private sector was extremely expensive, he said.

Dr. Hansamal Weerasuriya, member of the GMOA Media Committee, said that the government had not taken any action against officials responsible for illegal activities. The National Audit Office had published damning reports on the drug purchases of the health sector, but nothing had been done, he said.

Dr. Weerasuriya said that the government had sought to rake in 100 billion rupees by jacking up personal taxes, but it had already made around 105 billion and was expected to collect 150 billion by the end of the year.

“So, the government can give us a break. It can target people who are actually not paying taxes. It is easy for the government to tax professionals, and that’s why the government is doing it.”