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Regulations for health sector

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By Ashwin Hemmathagama, 

Our Lobby Correspondent

The brave actions of Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne that reduced prices of 48 essential medicines and accessories used for treatments got praised by fellow lawmakers last week in Parliament.

Joining the debate on regulations moved under the National Medicines Regulatory Authority Act, the State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne stated Dr. Rajitha was able to stand against the international drug mafia.

“There is corruption in the health sector and it is similar to a cancer. We know that there was a medicines mafia operative in this country. For years, medicines under different brand names were imported at exorbitant prices and the people had no choice but to pay this price which greatly profited the medicine importers. Those who suffered from exorbitant prices were the poor who were unable to afford.”  Praising the people centric policy of the current Government, State Minister said: “However, from 1976 to 2017 nothing was done to address this issue and establish Prof. Seneka Bibile policy. But the current Health Minister took a bold decision and implemented regulatory measures and consequently the prices of 48 medicines were reduced. None of the predecessors were capable to do that including the then Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena who didn’t have the freedom to do that under President Mahinda Rajapakse. Today, with the blessings of the current Government and the President, the current Health Minister was able to establish Senaka Bibile policy in Sri Lanka. As a result, many medicines came down drastically. We have reduced the prices of intraocular lenses in February. This is serving the public and protecting their rights.”

State Minister charged the doctors and their unions, which are after pound of flesh. “There is a monopoly of doctors, who would strike if they are not given the vehicle permit and if unable to put their children to better schools. Free education is given to all and doctors are obliged to provide their services to the people. This is free health service. No room should be given to destroy the faith people have on doctors and no one should be allowed to monopolise the medical field. They were against the ambulance services in the beginning. Now many parts of the island are covered by this ambulance service. Gone are the days where the ordinary patients had to use a three-wheeler to transport,” he added.

Explaining the background which led the Government to spend public money for cancellation of the Airbus order placed under Rajapaksa regime, he said: “Ragapaksa regime agreed to purchase eight Airbus A350-900 aircrafts. Each aircraft is capable of flying over 17 hours non-stop. But they would have had a plan service beyond Europe, which we serve now. Currently the longest route we take is to London. So, these new aircrafts are not required to reach London and the agreement was cancelled by the current Government. The cancellation led us to make certain payments. We are in the process of investigation the legality of the agreement placed to obtain the aircrafts.”


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