ECONOMYNEXT – The World Bank under its emergency reliefs has agreed to grant funds for Sri Lanka to
purchase essential drugs needed immediately by the health sector, Finance Minister Ali Sabry said.

The Finance Minister said in a private television channel interview that as per discussions held
with the World bank and Ministries of Health and Finance, the global multilateral funding agency has agreed to issue 10
million US dollars to purchase essential drugs by next week.

“It is not enough,. But still a big amount considering the situation,” Sabry told a privately owned Hiru TV interview.

“We hope to receive it by the next week.”

Meanwhile Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), a trade union said, the health sector in the country is
experiencing shortage of 237 essential drugs including antibiotics.

Senal Fernando, the GMOA Secretary said due rising shortage of medicine, the health  sector is likely to witness a worse crisis than the the country suffered during Covid pandemic.

“This is a crisis arose due to lack of foreign currency and people may think this only affects the state-run
facilities. But, this will eventually affect the private health facilities as well,” Fernando told reporters on
Tuesday (12).

“According to this (list), there is a shortage of medicine for every type of disease we are treating,”

Sri Lanka’s commercial banks have stopped issuing letters of credit to the private importers from
February onwards as they did not have US dollars while the government focused on purchasing fuel for public consumption and power generation in the country.

Due to the situation, several hospitals announced temporary suspensions on surgeries and other

With the stocks running out, GMOA invited international organizations and Sri Lankans in abroad to send
medicines and other essential medical equipment to the country.

GMOA asked possible suppliers to get already NMRA registered products, through local agents.

“If the donations are arranged from overseas, please try to get products registered in recognized
regulatory bodies such as US FDA, EMA, MHRA, and TGA Australia,” GMOA said referring to drug approving bodies.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Federation for Health Professionals (FHP) said the health sector is facing limitations in continuing CT Scan, MRI Scan, Linear Accelerator and some laboratory automation machines as well as ventilators used for patient management due to the ongoing economic crisis.

“The loan bill of the Ministry of Health for equipment maintenance alone is Rs. 5 billion. As this situation continues, those services will be discontinued and the lifespan and efficiency of those devices will be greatly compromised,” the Convener of the FHP, and the president of the College of Laboratory Professionals, Ravi Kumudesh told reporters on Tuesday (12).

Minister Ali Sabry said, the ministry in the discussion with World bank has asked for several funds as short term solutions due to the country’s current economic situation.

“We met the World Bank agents and we believe they will give us another 500 million US dollars under
immediate relief for the next 6 months for specific reasons such as to give the incentive for fertilizers, to
give the planting seeds for farmers and we are also looking to give an incentive for the low income
families in the country as well,” Sabry said. (Colombo/ April12/2022)