President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasised the importance of ensuring timely drug access and promoting transparency in the pharmaceutical sector during a meeting with the Health Minister, health officials, and finance officials today (14).

The President proposed the establishment of websites managed by the Health Ministry to provide up-to-date information on the availability of drugs in Sri Lanka, including specific quantities in each hospital, which will be updated daily. To streamline drug distribution, a networking system will be implemented to facilitate the transfer of drugs between hospitals, bypassing bureaucratic hurdles.

The President said, “Let’s be transparent about what every hospital has. It will be crucial, as you say, for its transparency. Then the people can’t come and complain if things are available. Not only do we do that, but every hospital must have an inventory of drugs and what they have on the computer screen. If I go to the hospital tomorrow, I must know what is available and what is not. Do all that. Then if there is a shortage, we know where the shortage is.”

In response to the challenges caused by current procedures leading to drug shortages, President Wickremesinghe instructed the Health Ministry to expedite the approval process for drugs endorsed by the FDA and other countries. Additionally, he called for amendments to the NMRA Act to enable swift action and overcome obstacles in drug procurement.