Calls on Government to address drug shortage
Says influenza has reached epidemic levels
By Chathuri Dissanayake
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday called on the Government to take immediate action to address the drug shortage prevailing in the state healthcare system.
Stating that the influenza virus was spreading, the GMOA said that the authorities should declare an epidemic situation in the country. The union, which is at loggerheads with Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Rajitha Senaratne, renewed its demand for his resignation, claiming he was not carrying out his duty.
Speaking at a press briefing, GMOA Secretary Naveen De Zoysa demanded a statement from the Minister on the situation giving details about the incident reporting mechanism followed by the health sector to record influenza diagnosis.
“We ask the Minister to state clearly if there is an epidemic situation, explain clearly if there is any reporting mechanism used and manage the drug situation,” De Zoysa said, demanding that the Health Minister take the responsibility seriously.
The GMOA also spoke of plans to meet President Maithripala Sirisena to brief him on the situation and to call for Minister Senaratne’s removal.
According to the GMOA, Tamiflu, the drug administered to treat H1N1 influenza, is in short supply in the state hospital system.
“We have received a large number of complaints from different members across the country that the drug is not available for the treatment of patients. But the Minister says that the drug is available. If it is still in storage in the Medical Supplies Division at the ministry, we demand that the Minister does his job and manages the distribution properly. There is no point in having stocks if it they are not available in the hospital for treatment,” the GMOA said. According to information received by the GMOA, the drug is unavailable and in some hospitals, including the National Hospital, it is being purchased locally while in Negombo the drug is unavailable for local purchase.
Govt. has a dual policy on tobacco consumption: GMOA
The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday alleged that the Government was following a dual policy in dealing with tobacco consumption in the country, where a new tobacco company was being registered in Sri Lanka while different policies have been drawn up for reducing consumption.
The GMOA accused the Health Minister of being double-tongued, where he claimed to be fighting corruption but allowing new tobacco producers into Sri Lanka at the same time.
Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday, GMOA Assistant Secretary Dr. H.P. Aluthge claimed that moves to register a new tobacco company were under way despite the Government’s claims of fighting tobacco consumption in the country.
He also alleged that the Health Ministry was slow in implementing the proposals made by the GMOA to reduce smoking, which included proposals to stop selling loose cigarettes and to introduce a licence system to sell cigarettes to curtail free circulation.